December 19, 2023

‘Tis the Season for Giving – But Don’t Give Your Identity Away This Christmas!


Liz Knight, Head of Cyber Security


Everyone is busy with their Christmas shopping at the moment (or at least some of us are – others will no doubt be leaving it to the last minute!). Either way, with increased online shopping activity and the frenzy that usually surrounds Christmas, it’s a great time to have a refresher on what you can do to stay cyber safe over the holidays.

Article originally written in December 2022, updated for relevancy in December 2023.

Buying online? 

In addition to making sure you are shopping at trusted sites with secure payment systems, and reviewing online feedback and ratings for any warning signals, some steps to keep your online accounts secure include:

  • Using a different password for each online account – that way if your password gets compromised, it’s limited to one site only.
  • If there is the option, enable two-factor authentication – a second code required to get into your account is a really effective method to keep your account secure.
  • Make sure your passwords are hard to guess! Make them long and complicated for someone else to figure out.
  • Verify sites before entering payment data and personal information.
  • Verify attachments in emails are safe before downloading them.
  • Verify links in emails before clicking on them.

Check your new devices

Did you know that old software can contain bad code that may allow easy access to your data and information?

If you are purchasing any new devices for your family this Christmas, make sure you follow these simple actions to reduce the risk of bad guys getting access:

  • Check to ensure mobile phones are updated to the latest Operating System version.
  • Run the latest patches and updates on laptops before using them.
  • Update browser apps such as Google and Safari on all your devices.
  • Ensure you have an anti-virus application running to detect malicious activity.

When travelling

Be wary of joining public Wi-Fi networks - where possible, use your mobile phone as a hotspot instead.

Another way to reduce chances of being hacked is by keeping applications on phones and laptops updated to the latest version. This can be achieved by enabling auto-updates where available - otherwise manually check that updates are enabled for devices, browsers and other apps. It's also important to only download mobile phone apps from their certified app store e.g. Google Play or the Apple app store.

Keep kids cyber safe

As kids are finishing up school, home for the holidays and ready to ramp up their screen time, it’s a great opportunity to remind them about being cyber safe as well. Some of the conversations you can have include:

  • Reminding them not to share their personal information online with unknown people.
  • Helping them set their social media account settings to private.
  • Reminding them of the good old adage ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’.
  • Making sure they know you are there to help if they have any issues online.

Be prepared, just in case

While we try our best to avoid being compromised, it’s entirely possible that someone you know will fall victim to a cyber attack these holidays. Here are some recommended actions if the worst happens:

  • Monitor bank account and credit card activity over this period to quickly spot any unapproved activities.
  • Contact the Police to let them know if have been hacked.
  • Contact your bank and they will help you cancel your cards and get new ones.
  • Reset your passwords on your compromised accounts, adding two-factor authentication where you can. is a good resource for learning more about online safety.

We wish you a very happy and cyber safe Christmas!