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50% of Aussies at risk of major online threat this December

Anastasia Santoreneos
·3-min read
Man holding smartphone. Scam Alert
50% of Aussies at risk of major online threat this December. Source: Getty

Almost half of all Australians expect to up their online shopping over the Christmas holidays due to Covid-19, but cyber safety experts warn they could be at risk of major security threats.

Cyber safety platform McAfee revealed that while 49 per cent of Aussies feel there’s a greater cyber risk this holiday season due to Covid-19, more than half don’t think they’re susceptible to it.

In fact, less than 39 per cent of Aussies bother to check whether Black Friday or Cyber Monday emails and text messages are authentic or trustworthy. One-in-five automatically assume gift card links are safe, and don’t take the steps necessary to ensure they’re legit.

“If there is one thing about 2020 that is not going to change, it’s how busy we get during the holiday season,” McAfee ANZ cyber safety ambassador Alex Merton-McCann said.

“We’re so consumed with planning Christmas events, ticking off our to-do lists and buying presents online that we often don’t have a minute to stop and think about whether we are taking unnecessary risks.”

But getting complacent makes us more susceptible to falling victim to scammers on the prowl.

More than 40 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds have fallen victim to an online scam, with 419 threats reported per minute in the second quarter of 2020, according to McAfee data.

The Australian Taxation Office also revealed more than 7,600 scam reports were recorded via its phone line in September alone, with $644,474 lost to scammers during the month.

Gift cards recorded the highest amount, at $209,633, while bank transfers netted scammers $193,510.

More than 1,000 Australians provided scammers with sensitive personal information in August.

“It is now more important than ever to take the necessary steps to protect yourself and our loved ones this holiday season,” he said.

How do I stay safe from scammers this Christmas?

There are three key things you can do to protect yourself from cyber crimes over the holidays, according to McAfee.

  1. Employ multi-factor authentication: Add an additional layer of security to protect personal data and information;

  2. Browse with caution: Add security using a tool which protects devices against malware, phishing attacks and malicious websites; and

  3. Protect your identity: Use an encryption solution or private web-browsing services to keep your personal and financial details safe from cyber criminals.

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