#AD Christmas Traditions and Cybersecurity

This is a promotional post in association with McAfee

Whilst some Christmas traditions remain the same year in, year out, the increasing popularity of digital gifts and traditions are ensuring that this is changing. A survey by McAfee showed that Christmas calls are down 21% over the past ten years, but WhatsApp messages are up 44% from 2009. Brits are ditching their old traditions in favour of more modern, digital traditions. There has also been a 13% decrease in people sending Christmas cards. I have to admit I don't think I will ever stop sending cards, I love sitting down to write them and it's a tradition that for me marks the start of the festive period!

Family Christmas tree

When I was younger, the main worry about Christmas was whether or not I got a cabbage patch doll that year (I never did). We didn't have digital gifts because they simply didn't exist. In my teenage years I once received a tamagotchi, but that was pretty much the height of technology for my childhood.  To be honest, that was one of the most stressful gifts I have ever received! I never did manage to keep one alive for more than a month. My children have a completely different experience. Whilst we're not likely to give them digital gifts every year, they are now ten and eight and are the age where their friends are receiving phones and consoles. My son received an Xbox for his Christmas and birthday present last year.

Opening an xbox on Christmas day

Sadly though, with these new digital traditions comes a more sinister element, cybercrime. New windows of opportunities begin to open for cybercriminals, who aim to cash in on insecure devices and connections. In fact, in the past year alone 18% of Brits were either scammed or know someone who was scammed during that time. Of these, 40% said they fell victim to an email phishing scam, while 26% fell victim to SMS phishing and more than a third (39%) were targeted by streaming scams. 71% of those who were scammed lost more than £500 after experiencing a scam, and 17% are more concerned of scams at Christmastime because money is tighter. In the past year alone I have seen a huge increase in the volume of phishing scams that come into my inbox.

These new digital habits mean that consumers streaming content and shopping online are sharing more personal information than ever before. Our data is digital, which puts us at risk of scammers. Raj Samani, Chief Scientist and Fellow at McAfee, commented: “Just like your family, cybercriminals have longstanding Christmas traditions. However, they are constantly looking for ways to take advantage of online behaviour, which takes them to newer platforms such as music and film streaming sites. We need to be far more vigilant about what information we give out, the links we click on and where we share our details.

Meeting Father Christmas

It's not all doom and gloom though, there are plenty of ways that you can protect your devices and keep safe from cybercriminals this Christmas. McAfee recommend the following tips;

Never reuse passwords. With just one hack, cybercriminals can get their hands-on thousands of passwords, which they can then use to try to access multiple accounts.

Stop and pause. Instead of clicking on a link in an email, it is always best to check directly with the source to verify an offer or shipment.

Browse with security protection. Use comprehensive security protection, like McAfee Total Protection, which can help protect devices against malware, phishing attacks and other threats. It includes McAfee WebAdvisor, which can help identify malicious websites.

Use a tool to help protect your personal information. A solution like McAfee Identity Theft Protection takes a proactive approach to help protect identities with personal and financial monitoring and recovery tools to help keep identities personal and secure

Relaxing at Christmas

It is inevitable that Christmas traditions will change as times change, but these new traditions have the opportunity to put us at risk. Make sure that you are taking steps to ensure a hassle-free Christmas. Protect your devices, set up parental controls for children and then you can relax, knowing you have done all you can to protect your family this Christmas.