Have yourself a safe and secure digital Christmas

This Christmas, many of us will be excitedly tearing the wrapping paper off new gadgets, gaming consoles and smart devices. After all, technology has become one of the most gifted types of present in recent years.

And you can see why. Tech-enabled devices are available at a range of pricepoints and levels of sophistication – from basic smart kitchen appliances and toys through to brand new gaming devices (like the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5).

Despite all the jollity that new tech can bring, if not properly secured, they can be a source of concern over the festive period. That’s because criminals and fraudsters understand that millions of people will be getting new devices, toys and gadgets – and will try to exploit their excitement and the novelty of having new technology for their own gain.

Here are three quick and easy ways to make sure you and your children don’t become a victim of digital fraud or criminal activity over the Xmas period.

Change passwords on smart toys

Long gone are the days when wooden train sets and a Barbie would be enough to keep children happy for Christmas. These days, a huge proportion of gifts for children contain a tech aspect – and many of these presents have a ‘smart’ element too. Some of the most popular smart toys this year include Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, a real-life remote control version of the popular Nintendo game; the Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit, which allows children to essentially build their own replica of a wand – complete with instructions on how to start coding; and Furreal Roarin’ Tyler, an animatronic tiger cub, which reacts to your movements and sounds.

Yet while smart toys are an exciting new frontier for child entertainment, in the past, researchers have found that they often arrive setup with basic passwords. In theory, this gives fraudsters an easy time of gaining remote access to your child’s devices, even allowing them to hijack built in webcams – which is deeply concerning.

Our advice? Change your child’s smart toy password as soon as you unbox it. Set a code with a mixture of capitals, numbers and symbols to make it impenetrable to bad actors.

Mind tech usage over Christmas

Of course, many children will be opening more ‘conventional’ tech toys this Christmas such as new smartphones, smart watches and tablets/laptops too.

In many cases, this might be your child’s first connected tech device, allowing them to keep in touch with school friends and family over the holidays.

While this is understandably a very exciting time and opens up a world of infinite possibilities for kids, it’s worth being mindful that people can see children as an easy target for carrying out malicious activity.

With that in mind, it’s worth taking your child through the basics of online safety before they get stuck into their new devices. This doesn’t have to be as onerous as it sounds – a quick check in on what to do and what not to do doesn’t have to take long, and can be reinforced with monitoring over the Christmas break.

Additionally, you might want to setup some parental controls so you know your kids are safe when online this Xmas. Check out our guide to doing that here.

Be cautious with Boxing Day deals

It’s funny isn’t it? As soon as Christmas is over, many of us look forward to the slew of amazing deals that pop up online on Boxing Day – despite usually having received a generous pile of presents the day before.

Once again, criminals understand our shopping behaviour on the day after Christmas. They know that millions of us will be jumping on time and stock-limited deals on 26th December – and will work to exploit that rush to lock down offers.

So how do you avoid being caught up in deal related fraud? Well just like on Black Friday, there are some key things to do; don’t click on suspicious links from sources you don’t know; be very wary of deal emails from retailers – they could be a phishing attempt; instead go directly to retailers’ websites to look out for new offers; scrutinise websites for authenticity – you’d be surprised at how many ‘fake’ websites go live over the Xmas period; and be super cautious about ‘storing’ credit card details on any online portals.

These steps might take a little bit more time, but are super important if you want to avoid being the victim of fraud over Xmas.

If you’re interested in more of our festive content, then check out the below. Have a wonderful, safe Christmas and a Happy New Year!