By Barry Maxey, Client Technology Director, Armstrong Watson

CYBER criminals have a field day at this time of year as we rush to bag the bargains. Fake websites and phoney branding can trick even the savviest shopper, but, fortunately, you don't need to be a tech expert to spot them. Follow our tips below and hopefully you can help protect yourself from the majority of these scams.

1. Install the Latest Software and App Updates. These often contain really important security updates that can protect you against identity theft.

2. Use strong passwords. Securing your important accounts with a good password can help deter against attacks.

3. Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA). Turn on an extra layer of protection called 2FA – often used by banks - e.g. by sending a security code to your mobile phone.

4. Use a password manager. This could just be the one built into your internet browser or often into your device.

5. Stay Alert. Be cautious that some of the emails or texts you receive about amazing offers may contain links to fake websites. Be particularly wary of links in an email or text message and check them out by doing a Google search.

6. Don't give away too much away. Only ever fill in the mandatory details of forms (usually marked with an asterisk*) when buying online.

7. Safer Online Payment Methods. Using a credit card is generally regarded as one of the safest way to pay online, as the money doesn’t come straight out of your bank account.

8. Trust Your Instinct and Act Fast. Sometimes, things can still go wrong, no matter how much care you take and it’s important to take action immediately. Report the details to Action Fraud and contact your bank for advice.

9. After sales care. After buying, you should remain on your guard and notify your bank immediately if something looks suspicious.

Whilst cybercrime can be a worry for individuals it is also an ever-increasing problem for businesses and being prepared is essential. If you’re concerned that your business may be susceptible to a cyberattack, please get in touch: or call me on 07469850632