Digital Christmas traditions: How to stay safe online at Christmas

  • November 22, 2019
iphone Christmas

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with McAfee

This year we’ll be celebrating our first Christmas in Spain so it’s going to be very different to our usual Christmas in many ways, creating some new family Christmas traditions. Being far away from family at Christmas will be a bit strange but luckily it’s so easy to stay in touch with loved ones via social media, video calls, and emails.

We won’t be sending Christmas cards this year as the postage from Spain to England costs more than the cards themselves, and in recent years we have cut down to only sending cards to close relatives anyway. There will also be lots of Whatsapp video calls on Christmas Day to wish family a Happy Christmas since we can’t see them in person and it’s a free alternative to international phone calls.

I can even buy Christmas presents for my nieces and nephews online and get them delivered straight to their door nicely wrapped.

Technology definitely makes it easier at times like this, but it’s not just those of us far away from family who will be embracing a more ‘digital’ Christmas. Family Christmas’s have definitely changed in recent years with the introduction of digital technologies.

A recent survey by McAfee found that many Brits have swapped Christmas phone calls (down 21% over the past 10 years) and cards (down 13% from 2009) for WhatsApp calls (up 44% from 2009). In addition to this, 81% of Brits now do their Christmas shopping online.

Carolling has also declined over the past 10 years (down 18%) with many families swapping it for streaming festive songs (up 33%). Who doesn’t love a bit of Michael Buble playing in the background on Christmas day!

However, while using technology certainly makes life easier at Christmas, it can also open us up to scams and having devices hacked. It’s especially important to be vigilant if you’re getting new phones, tablets etc as a gift and know how you can stay safe online at Christmas.

The survey by McAfee also found that 18% of Brits were either scammed over the past year or know someone who was. Of these, 40% said they fell victim to an email phishing scam, 26% fell victim to SMS phishing and 39% were targeted by scams associated with streaming or downloading music, films and TV. Of those who were scammed, 71% lost more than £500.

Some of the most common scams to be aware of all year round but even more so at Christmas are email phishing scams that look like they’ve been sent by popular online retailers, and scams associated with streaming or downloading music, films and TV. If you are sending and receiving lots of text or WhatsApp messages at Christmas it’s also important to remain on guard and avoid clicking links in messages, especially if they come from a number you don’t recognise.

Tips to stay safe online at Christmas

Never reuse passwords

Cybercriminals can easily get hold of thousands of passwords, which they can use to try to access multiple accounts. By using different passwords for each account you can limit the risk of being hacked.

Change default passwords

If your new device comes with a default password the first thing you should do is change it. The first passwords hackers will try will be the usual 0000 or 1234 combinations.

Check before clicking

Before you click on a link in an email it’s always best to check directly with the source to verify an offer or shipment. Hover your mouse over the link without clicking on it to see the full URL. If it doesn’t take you to the retailer’s main website it is likely to be a scam.

Pay via credit card

Credit cards offer more protection against fraudulent charges than debit cards. If your debit card is compromised you could also lose all the money in your bank account.

Add parental controls

If your child has a new phone or tablet for Christmas make sure you log on to set up any necessary parental controls before they start using it. Many devices allow you to set passwords, extra security, and block certain apps.

Use protection

Using comprehensive security protection, like McAfee Total Protection, can help protect your devices against malware, phishing attacks and other threats. It also includes McAfee WebAdvisor, which can help identify malicious websites.

Protect your personal information

A tool like McAfee Identity Theft Protection takes a proactive approach to help protect identities with personal and financial monitoring and recovery tools to help keep identities personal and secure.


If you are mindful of the risks and take the proper precautions, you should hopefully be able to avoid falling victim to any scams and stay safe online at Christmas.



Christmas is a popular time for hackers and many people fall victim to scams and phishing. Make sure you stay safe online this Christmas with these tips... | #onlinesafety #internetsecurity #christmas

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