Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

With Christmas just around the corner, more and more Australians are turning to online shopping to pick up bargains.

Before shoppers kick off the holiday season, AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltd reminds them to be smart and stay safe online so they can continue to enjoy their Internet experiences and great bargains.

Michael McKinnon, Security Advisor at AVG (AU/NZ), said: “The fastest and easiest way to score a great deal may be online – but shopping on your computer, tablet or smartphone also creates opportunities for cybercriminals to attack.

“Online holiday shopping is a prime time for hackers to re-route funds, steal personal information, and trick consumers into online scams. Before shoppers kick off the holiday season, we want to remind consumers to be smart and stay safe, and ensure their computers and mobile devices are properly protected with anti-virus software.”

While navigating the hundreds of websites to find the best deals for Christmas and then the New Year sales, AVG (AU/NZ) offers these five tips to protect against malware attacks and identity theft this holiday season:

1. Be a Scrooge to Public Wi-Fi: Anyone can download software that steals your information from public networks. Online gift shoppers should wait until they’re home or on a secure network and avoid public Wi-Fi networks when sharing financial or sensitive data.

2. Naughty or Nice? Check the URL Twice: Mobile devices come with super small screens that don’t show the full web address. Hackers may add to the end of URL addresses which will lead shoppers to corrupt sites. Consumers should check before they click. Whether on a computer or mobile phone, it’s important to make sure the URL begins with “https” before credit card information is entered. The “https” confirms the site is secure.

3. Unbelievable Deals: Beware of online ads promising free products or extremely large discounts. Consumers should download free link scanning software, which prevents online users from going to sites designed to steal financial and other personal information, before starting their holiday shopping.

4. Keep Kids Savvy: Most parents know they’re not the only ones on the family computer – kids are online too, surfing stores’ websites to create their holiday wish list. A recent study conducted on behalf of AVG found that the online activity of most 10-13 year old kids mirrors their parents’, long before they’re ready to handle the dangers. Free online safety tips about smart online use and safeguarding the family computer are available from AVG (AU/NZ) and Australian government sites such as Stay Smart Online.

5. ‘Tis the Season for Pickpockets: When shoppers venture out to the mall, they should keep the data on their mobile phones out of harm’s way. Security software exists for both computers and mobile phones that can help protect consumers from viruses, phishing scams and identity theft. Even pickpockets can be thwarted as owners can now remotely wipe personal data from any lost or stolen device.

“As you Ho, Ho, Ho through the peace and quiet of your online Christmas shopping, please be careful that the bargain you’ve just found doesn’t come with any unwanted extras. Think before you click,” McKinnon said.

For the series of informative security tips, how-to’s and fact sheets see:

www.avg.com.au/resources/security-tips/. For video tips from AVG (AU/NZ), see: www.youtube.com/user/avgaunz

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