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In light of recent global events, there is a heightened risk of cyber-attacks. We urge local organisations to exercise additional vigilance when monitoring IT infrastructure. Please report suspicious activity to us via our Cyber Concerns Reporting Tool.

1. Be wary of suspicious links

  • Avoid clicking links in emails that are from unfamiliar senders or links that don't make it clear where they will lead you to.

  • Research retailers you are not familiar with and look for reviews about the company from reliable sources.

  • Look out for fraudulent emails. Check email addresses against others you have received in the past.

2. Don't rush, don't be pressured

  • Use known reputable websites, especially for sales events.

  • Don't rush to buy a product, even if it is from a legitimate company - you could regret it and then struggle to cancel or get a refund it.

  • Keep in mind, products marked 'limited stock' or 'last few remaining' are sometimes a lure to make you rush into a purchase and could potentially be a scam

3. Use strong passwords

  • The UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recommends using three memorable but random words to create your passwords.

  • Use at least 12 characters and add numbers, and special characters at the start middle or end to increase its strength.

  • Use unique passwords for each of your important accounts such as social media, email, banking and websites storing banking details.

4. Make sure websites are secure

  • Check for "https://" in web addresses or a locked padlock symbol in your browser.

  • "https://" doesn't necessarily mean the website is legitimate but it does mean the connection between you and the website is encrypted.

  • "https://" doesn't guarantee that your information can't be intercepted but it is definitely better to have it than not.

5. Use a guest account on websites

  • Try to reduce the amount of online accounts you hold, particularly ones containing personal and financial information.

  • If you don't use a website frequently, consider checking out as a guest rather than making an account.

  • Keep your personal information to a minimum to reduce the amount of information available to criminals if the website is hacked or suffers from a data breach.

6. Check your bank statement regularly

  • Check your bank statements for payments made that you don't recognise.

  • If you find any transactions that you were not aware of, contact your bank immediately.

7. Complete transactions through official websites

  • Be wary of a seller asking you to pay by bank transfer or outside of a website.

  • Payment services like PayPal or using credit cards offer additional protection.

8. Be careful with adverts on social media

  • Avoid clicking links on advertisements. Check reputable websites for reviews to check for the legitimacy of products and services.

  • If in doubt about the authenticity of a website, don't give any personal or financial information.

  • Schedule and run anti-virus scans regularly. If you think you may have visited a suspicious website, run a scan.

9. Keep your documentation

  • Legitimate companies will usually send you an order confirmation after making a purchase.

  • Keep your documents safe until you are happy with your purchase.

  • If the product you have ordered comes with a guarantee, keep the receipt, and submit any forms offering guarantees or free servicing.

10. Research products and businesses before you buy

  • There are plenty of reputable review websites online, and some merchants have their own feedback facility.

  • Keep an eye out for similar looking language used in multiple reviews for the same business or product as this can be an indicator of a scam.

11. Secure your devices and apps

  • Make sure your devices have up-to-date anti-virus software installed and turned on. Both Apple and the latest Microsoft computers come with anti-virus pre-installed.

  • Your computers, devices and software will often notify you of updates. Don't ignore them, install them at the earliest opportunity.

12. Secure your smart devices

  • Change default settings on your smart devices. Usernames and passwords should be changed if possible.

  • Keep an eye on available updates and security fixes from the manufacturer. Some devices won't automatically update.

  • If you decide to get rid of/sell your device, remember to perform a factory reset to return it to original settings and remove your data.