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For many of us, this is the first year where we aren’t jetting off, heading out, or planning large gatherings over the final few months. Online shopping has seen a dramatic increase since the Covid-19 pandemic started as many of us stopped visiting shopping centres. As a consumer, you may be hearing different tech ways on how to shop online safely.

From career and communication to shopping and entertainment, our digital worlds have grown exponentially. This makes it crucial to ensure we stay safe when using our devices and the internet. Read o and discover six tech tips that will help you enjoy a more secure holiday season.

Watch for Scams

Cybercrime is rampant during this period, with scammers and hackers leveraging new ways to mislead unsuspecting and unprepared victims. Knowledge is your best defence. The ability to identify fraudulent messages such as phishing emails can go a long way. Here are some examples:

Flash Sale Alerts

You’ll likely be informed about many promotions in the next few weeks as retailers host more sales. Not all offers are legitimate. Some are created by scammers imitating reputable companies. It’s wise to avoid following any links and rather visit the store’s official website to verify the deal. The same is true for gift cards and other freebies.

Fake Delivery Notices

This is another common way for cybercriminals to target online shoppers. If you receive any notifications regarding missed deliveries, remember to double-check details like the tracking number and shipping information. For instance, you may be expecting a Royal Mail Parcelforce delivery, so the mention of UPS would be a red flag.

Unrealistic Offers

Chances are that you’ve seen a few online ads or emails for desirable items with temptingly low prices. These aren’t always easy to catch out. The discount may only bring the cost down to 20% lower than elsewhere. But if there isn’t another retailer offering the same product for nearly as cheap, you should probably stay clear.

While knowing what to look for is key, it certainly helps to have the right tools at your disposal. This can include:

  • AdBlock Plus to prevent harmful pop-ups and content from appearing
  • Fakespot for detecting fake sellers and product reviews
  • CamelCamelCamel for viewing an item’s price over time

Donate Cautiously

The holiday season is also the time for giving. And with all of the challenges the world is currently facing, there are plenty of people who will appreciate some assistance. Unfortunately, charities aren’t immune to the risks of cybercrime, where it’s not unusual for scammers to prey on the kindness of others.

That’s why it’s important to do your research. Make use of resources such as the charity register to learn about an organisation’s credibility and practices before contributing. Similarly, remain vigilant of aggressive pitches and requests for money. When it comes to payments, try using a credit card so that you can recover any fraudulent transactions.

Secure New Devices

You might be planning to pick up a few tech toys in the near future, whether to upgrade your workstation or spoil some family members. In any case, the first priority should be to protect your investment by securing it right away. It’s also a good idea to assess your current devices. The process depends on your needs and circumstances.

Basic measures include downloading antivirus, running scans, and updating software. For business owners and remote workers, a remote IT support service can provide all the necessary security solutions. This ranges from malware and threat mitigation to network audits, data backups, and more, with dedicated monitoring and defence facilities.

Make Informed Purchases

Today’s smart devices reach well-beyond the likes of voice assistant-enabled speakers. You can buy fridges, thermostats, baby monitors, light fixtures, garage door openers, and countless other kinds of connected tech.

The Internet of Things (IoT) gadgets form your home network and can be compromised by devices that are vulnerable to hackers. Be selective when shopping for tech and avoid knockoffs or products from unsavory brands without a proven history of security and reliability. Keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Choose reputable manufacturers
  • Check their privacy policy and track record
  • Look for security features and guaranteed updates
  • Read what existing users say about the product
  • Find reviews from authoritative sources in the industry

Conference Carefully

Social distancing rules have greatly increased our reliance on video conferencing tools to stay in touch with friends, family, and fellow employees. Given that software like Zoom requires access to your camera and microphone, it’s best to stick with well-known services. Also, be wary of apps and websites that request these permissions.

Popular video conferencing tools include:

  • Skype for personal calls
  • Hangouts for casual chats
  • GoToMeeting for presentations
  • Microsoft Teams for collaboration
  • Cisco Webex Meetings for business

Practise Good Habits

As mentioned earlier, knowledge is your best defence against fraudsters, hackers, and scammers. An informed approach should be coupled with good habits to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Try to maintain the following practices:

  1. Ensure that passwords are long and unique with 15-20 different characters
  2. Monitor your financial accounts for fraudulent activity
  3. Install antivirus software and perform regular scans
  4. Check web browser privacy and security settings
  5. Keep apps and operating systems up to date

When it comes to safeguarding your personal data and files, routine backups are key. An external hard drive can get the job done, but cloud storage tends to be more convenient and effective. Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud, and Google Drive are all great options from trustworthy companies.

Finally, consider using a VPN (virtual private network) to safely and privately browse the internet. These tools have the added benefit of allowing you to access restricted content such as region-locked media and special offers. Leading VPN services include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Surf Shark, and IPVanish.

Here’s to a safe and secure digital holiday!

With the right tech tools and some know-how, you can enjoy a headache-free festive season. If you’re interested in learning more about totality services and our award-winning security services, work from home IT support, or any other IT solutions, please get in touch to discuss how we can help your business.

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