With online shopping growing fast, more of us are turning to the internet to buy stuff. And the run-up to Christmas is one of the busiest times, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday seeing a jump in online sales.
Latest figures show that this year it is expected that around out of every £100 spent on retail, £1.70 of that will be online. Last year Black Friday saw two million online transactions, with around one million on Cyber Monday.
More than three-quarters of internet users made a purchase online last year, according to research from Twenga Solutions.
But many online shoppers are worried about the risk involved of sharing financial details over the internet. Now Devon & Cornwall Police has issued this guidance on how to stay safe when shopping online.
How to protect yourself from cyber crime
Cyber crime is when criminals exploit the speed, convenience and anonymity that technology offers in order to commit a range of offences. It is becoming increasingly serious and is estimated that it costs the global economy about 445 billion dollars a year, according to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
What is 'cyber crime?'
Police often break cyber crime down into two categories:
Cyber enabled crime – traditional crimes committed using the internet. e.g. theft, harassment, fraud, identity theft, selling stolen goods, drug dealing or people smuggling.
Cyber dependant crime - online crimes where a digital system is the target. These include attacks on computer systems to disrupt IT infrastructures, e.g. unauthorised access (hacking), malicious software programming (malware) or denial of service attacks.
We are all vulnerable to the potential of cyber crime, either individually or as a company. Remember that 80% of all cyber crime is preventable.
Cyber crime is against the law under the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) 1990. It may also include abusive or harassing communications under the Malicious Communications Act 1988 or Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
How to avoid becoming a victim of cyber crime
Use 'strong' passwords, and keep your passwords secure. i.e. use at least 8 characters, include numbers and letters, both upper and lower case.
Update your computer security, anti-viral software and install a firewall.
Keep your operating systems updated.
Delete and block spam or junk emails. Be careful when opening attachments or using internet downloads.
Secure and encrypt wireless networks when using WiFi (Wireless Internet access).
Make sure your internet browser and any plug-ins are updated (e.g. Flash, Java, Silverlight)
Use reputable companies when shopping online.
Use secure payment methods, such as PayPal or credit cards for online purchases.
Avoid scams, criminal gangs operate 'scams' and use the internet as one of the methods to defraud people and business. i.e. asking for money to pay for travel, finance a sick relative, or winning the lottery.
They will also try passing off as your bank and ask for your banking details.
or Microsoft or your internet provider stating your computer has been corrupted and want you to click on a link or download some software.
Backup important data - like photographs, music, videos or documents and not just to the cloud.