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With most of us shopping online these holidays, how do you protect yourself from scams, viruses and fraud. Norton internet safety advisor Marian Merritt tells us how to stay safe online and avoid nasty surprises.


1. Watch out for the spammers

Does an offer seem too good to be true? Well it most probably is! Cybercriminals are fully aware of the searches we make online and know the kind of emails we wish would land in our inbox. Always be cautious of anything you receive from unknown recipients or that seem just that bit too generous.



2. Search for signs of approval

Trust marks, such as the Norton Secured Seal, show the retailer has been verified and the site is likely free from malware. Also, look for HTTPS and the color green in your browser address bar before entering your personal information.



3. “Password” is not an acceptable password

Pay particular attention to the passwords for your email, social networking and online banking accounts, making them as complex and unique as you can. Also, avoid storing your credit card information on retailer websites.



4. Be cautious on public Wi-Fi networks

Tempting as it may be to purchase a product while using a public Wi-Fi network, these hotspots can be virtual playgrounds for cybercriminals. Instead, use a personal VPN or wait until you’re on a protected network before purchasing anything online or logging onto your bank website.



5. Avoid spam’s hidden surprises

Not all spam is harmless; some spam carries viruses and other malicious threats that may harm your computer. With holiday headlines like “Insane Cyber Monday Deals: 80% off!” or even more subtle but seasonal captions like “Information about your shipped package!,” you may be tempted to click, but you’d be wise to junk them instead. Always be cautious of any emails you receive from unknown recipients or that seem just a bit too generous.


6. Take your security to-go

Threats on mobile devices are on the rise, and becoming increasingly sophisticated. Also, while shopping for apps for your new holiday gadget, beware that many mobile apps now feature unwanted aggressive advertising known as “madware” or mobile adware. Use a security solution and adware tool for your smartphones, tablets, laptops and home computers to keep you protected, whether you’re shopping at home or on the move.



7. The small print

Always read fine print to ensure you are covered, as well as delivery times and terms etc. This will prevent any nasty shocks regarding additional bills, delays or returns and ensure you get your gifts wrapped and under the tree in time.

Are you an online shopper? What are your favourite sites for Christmas shopping?