Beef up cybersecurity before online shopping for Christmas, police warn

Attention, shoppers: more than 8.5 million Canadians were victims of cybercrime this past year. So Calgary police have tips to help make your online Christmas shopping safer.

All they want for Christmas is your credit card number

Police say it's important Calgarians know how to recognize cybercrimes and prevent themselves from becoming victims. (Shutterstock)

Attention, shoppers! Calgary police are warning you to beef up your cybersecurity before doing any Christmas shopping online.

And with the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals fast approaching, the sooner the better, they say.

More than 8.5 million Canadians were victims of cyber crime in the past year, up from 7.4 million in 2015, according to a report released Wednesday by antivirus company, Norton by Symantec.

Credit card fraud is one of the most common online offenses, it added.

Here are some tips from the Calgary Police Service's cyber-forensic unit to help safeguard your surfing during the busy shopping season.

1. Beware of public Wi-Fi

Police say you never know who else is logged on to the free network at your local coffee shop, which means you also never know who else can see the credit card number you just punched in to buy that bathrobe for grandma.

2. Update your antivirus software

If you're staying away from the malls to avoid catching a cold, just remember you can still pick up a virus online. One way to ward off these constantly adapting nuisances is by keeping your software and browsers current.

Be careful where you're clicking - police advise against shopping online over public Wi-Fi. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

3. Look for the lock symbol

To help ensure you have a secure connection, the cyber unit says there should be a lock symbol in the address bar, or the URL should begin with "https" — the "s" stands for secure.

4. Use two-factor authentication

Police say this provides an extra layer of security when logging into an account. An example would be having a confirmation key sent to your phone in addition to typing in a password.

5. Be wary of unexpected emails

You've finished filling up your online shopping carts, and now you've just got an email about a problem with a purchase you never made. The cyber unit says phishing scams like these can look very legitimate. Don't click on any links and if you do need to contact the company, do it through an email or phone number you've used before.

For more the rest of the unit's tips, visit the City of Calgary's website.