‘It’s the most wonderful time of year’ – we’ve all heard the jingles and read the slogans. But the holiday season can also be a little overwhelming when you’re the one ‘in charge’. Whether it’s prepping for the inevitable influx of new devices, buying the gifts or booking the holiday – there are a lot of online safety considerations to workshop in addition to how you’re going to stuff the turkey and decorate the tree!
So, with the Christmas spirit running through my keyboard, I hereby share with you my top tips to help you keep you and your family safe online this holiday period.
1. Have a Safety Plan for ALL New Devices
We all know that Santa loves technology so it’s inevitable that your family members may find a new device or two under the tree this year. So, as soon as they have unboxed their shiny new item, I recommend on insisting on a few steps to both protect the device and its new owner:
- Change the default passcode or set up a new one immediately
- Check for software updates – these ensure that any bugs or weak spots are addressed
- Choose a ‘back-up’ solution. If it’s an iPhone, iCloud can work. I’m a fan of Dropbox as it works so well on both phones and laptops.
- Invest in a security solution. If you already have a premium subscription to an online security solution like McAfee+ then you’ll likely be able to add the new devices (phones, tablets or laptops) to your family plan. If not, consider investing. Not only will it protect devices from viruses and phishing attacks, but it will also help you locate it if it ever gets misplaced- very common occurrence in my household!
2. Online Shopping
Getting to the bottom of the Christmas gift list takes time particularly if you are ‘lucky’ enough to get COVID before Christmas, like myself! While there are still some retailers guaranteeing delivery before Christmas – including Amazon until Christmas Eve (phew!) – you might need to focus on gift cards if you don’t want to face the hordes at the shops. Regardless of what you buy, please follow the following online shopping tips to avoid being cyberscrooged this year:
- Only buy from trusted retailers – even if it costs a few more dollars
- Ensure the site is secure – look for a padlock at the start of a web address and an address that starts with ‘https’
- Avoid offers that are ‘too good to be true’ – they usually are!
- Don’t ever use public Wi-Fi to do your shopping – no exceptions!
3. Book Your Holiday From a Reputable Online Site
I don’t think there would be anything more disappointing than anticipating a holiday only to have it not happen. Or, to be scammed while preparing for it. With holiday makers having to jump through more hoops thank to COVID requirements, many experts are predicting scammers will be turning their attention to creating fake COVID verification sites, designed purely to extract personal details from unsuspecting holiday makers. So, if you’re booking a holiday, or doing your admin for it, please do the following:
- Take a moment to verify – check the website URL to ensure it leads to where you expect before clicking and paying. And always verify the validity of any requests for payment. Contact your travel retailer if you have any concerns.
- Think before you click – make sure the site is secure before you pay: check that the URL has a visible padlock in the search bar and that it starts with an ‘https’.
- Using BPay or PayID is also another good way to protect yourself. Both these platforms will show customers who they are paying before they ‘do the deal’ which reduces the chance of being scammed.
4. Be Careful What You Share Online
With so many of us busting with excitement to be travelling this holiday season for the first time in a few years, it’s inevitable that we want to share online. But, please think before you post. Checking in to airports or hotels online is really a way of alerting the online world to the fact that your house is likely unattended! And please make sure your kids understand this too. I appreciate there’s a lot of kudos for sharing holidays snaps in the moment but encourage your offspring to wait until you get home before sharing. Here are my top tips:
- No checking in online anywhere
- No sharing pics of Christmas gifts
- Only share holiday snaps once you’ve arrived back home
And if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, why not make yourself a cuppa and harness the power of technology. Make yourself a to-do list on Todoist or Google Docs, send out ecards if you absolutely can’t disappoint key family and friends – loving the options from Greetings Island, buy some gift cards from Prezee or The Gift Cards Store then design your Christmas Day menu with the help of Taste or RecipeTinEats. And voila you’re done!
PS Just remember to create unique passwords if you choose to set up accounts with any new sites!
Happy Holidays Everyone!!!