Protect yourself from cyber crooks this sales season: Deakin expert

22 December 2017

For eager shoppers gearing up to tackle this year's Boxing Day sales online, a Deakin University cyber security expert is warning to beware of scammers.

But Deputy Director of Deakin's Centre for Cyber Security Research Professor Matthew Warren said following a few simple tips could keep shoppers safe.

Professor Warren said it was easy to see why online shopping was increasingly popular, especially at sales time.

"Why spend your Boxing Day with masses of other shoppers in hot, crowded shops, when you can browse from home, with the air-conditioning on and no issue with driving or finding a park," he said.

"But for cyber criminals, the sales are also a peak time to try to defraud as many vulnerable bargain hunters as they can. Fortunately when it comes to online shopping, following some basic tips will help you avoid falling victim to scammers."

  1. Protect your passwords. Many people use the same password for every account they have including shopping accounts. This means that if a cyber-criminal captures one login password, in theory they would get access to all your accounts using the same password. A simple solution is to choose a different password for your shopping accounts or use two stage authentication (e.g. you get texted a code to enter online and complete your transaction).
  2. Be realistic on special offers appearing in your email or social media. If an unknown organisation is offering the latest tablet or phone with a massive discount, the chances are it is actually a scam. These criminals play on the fact that everyone wants a bargain, so just be aware of what is legit.
  3. Check the website addresses you're visiting. Double check the website address you are typing. Many cyber criminals create fake websites linked to misspelt common domain names, they just assume people mistype website addresses. Make sure that you type the website address correctly and you use a use secure connection (https). These fake websites could also be selling fake products, but made to look authentic.
  4. Ensure the 'Australian' organisation you are dealing with is actually based in Australia. The organisation may be based overseas and pretending to be based in Australia. This means you have no consumer protection under Australian law and your goods may take a long time to arrive.

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Media release Faculty of Science Engineering and Built Environment, School of Information Technology

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