Don’t Give the Cyber Criminal A Present This Christmas

Online shoppers are being urged to be on their guard as the threat of cyber attacks in the run up to Christmas reaches unprecedented levels.

The Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) fear the anticipated record number of people looking to buy gifts over the internet this Christmas, coupled with the advanced techniques being used by cyber criminals, means the risk of shoppers falling victim has never been greater.

The SBRC, the Scottish Governments and Police Scotland’s business resilience delivery team, has put together a series of tips to help shoppers stay protected online.

SBRC Director Mandy Haeburn-Little said: “Cyber attacks can happen to any individual or organisation no matter of size or geography. 

“The recent raid on Talk Talk is an example of how even the biggest of companies can fall victim.

“So as the Christmas rush reaches a peak, and bringing with it the biggest cyber threat we’ve seen, it is vital that shoppers do all they can to prevent themselves becoming the next cyber attack case.

“It has been estimated that as much as 80% of cyber-crime can be prevented by getting the cyber basics right such as updating software, good passwords and regular system backups.

“But we also want shoppers to be extra vigilant in following some simple tips to have a happy and troublefree Christmas.”

It is important to keep your personal and financial information safe when buying online. To keep your details safe you need to look out for three things:-

  • ‘https://’ at the start of the address bar. The ‘S’ indicates that it is a secure server and that your information will be safe.
  • ‘Padlock Icon’. Some websites will add a padlock icon to the address bar as well ‘https://’ to give a further indication of safety.
  • ‘Green Address Bar’ another indicator that some secure websites use is to turn the address bar green.

With shoppers using various sites over the internet to buy presents, it will likely mean a flurry of unexpected e mails – such as receipts or links to other websites – which heightens the threat of people unwittingly responding to so-called Phishing scams. Phishing is an attempt to criminally and fraudulently acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy site using email. For example receiving an email asking to update your financial details via an untrustworthy link.

There are easy ways to avoid this type of scam if you remember a few useful tips:

  • Scam emails typically ask for personal information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, etc
  • Never click on any link to a bank, eBay, or other merchants. When in doubt, call the institution using the number listed in the phone book, not the one provided on the email.
  • Avoid filling out forms in e-mail messages that ask for personal financial information and never save them to your computer.
  • Don’t click on attachments. Run both anti-virus and anti-spyware applications. Firewall and privacy protection software are always good to have in place.
  • Ensure that you’re using a secure website when submitting financial details via your web browser.
  • Regularly check your bank, credit and debit card statements to ensure that all transactions are legitimate.
  • Order credit reports on yourself yearly and review them carefully.

Last month, a new strategy – Safe, Secure and Prosperous: A Cyber Resilience Strategy for Scotland – was launched by the Government to map out how individuals and businesses can increase their online resilience and enable Scotland to become a world leader in cyber resilience.

For more information on the SBRC and its services, visit

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