In the run-up to Christmas, it is particularly worthwhile to pay attention to IT security.

E-mail inboxes are particularly full before Christmas. Normal correspondence and newsletters are joined by appeals for donations and offers for online bargains. It is worth taking a closer look at the offers to avoid a rude awakening on Christmas Eve.

Advent is a reflective time when we look forward to Christmas. But December often brings with it a stressful final spurt. Many things have to be done or set in motion by the end of the year. No wonder that mailboxes overflow with correspondence, greeting cards, appeals for donations and last-minute offers for supposed gift bargains. But instead of clicking hastily, it is better to take a deep breath and look carefully.
Even behind a familiar-looking e-mail from your bank, a phishing attack can be hiding. Hackers use this type of email to lure users to specially faked websites where they are asked to enter personal data for confirmation. If you do this, you will have given away your online passwords and account data in no time at all. That’s why you should always check e-mails carefully.

How can you recognise a phishing e-mail?

You should be suspicious of faulty spelling or grammar if the e-mail supposedly comes from an official agency such as a telephone provider or a bank.
Do not click on links immediately, but let the mouse pointer hover over them. At the edge of the screen, you can check whether the target of the link leads to a secure page (recognisable e.g. by https://).
Small spelling mistakes or misspellings in the domain name are also cause for caution. Last but not least, you should check the domain extension carefully. If there is another extension after the .de or .com, you will not be directed to the page you expect.

300 million phishing e-mails daily

Even though only about 20% of the phishing mails sent daily reach the mailboxes, about half of them are opened. And that’s about 300 million. Every day.
The pandemic additionally tempts people to click quickly before Christmas, because online trade is booming. Due to scarce raw materials, certain game consoles, mobile phones or other coveted goods are hard to come by. Therefore, alarm bells should go off when you see particularly cheap bargain offers. It is worth checking, for example, whether the shop has an imprint. If there is none, or if the company is based abroad, it is better to leave the offer alone.

Hectic makes you inattentive

Christmas season also holds special dangers in the corporate environment. For hackers, the holiday season has a double benefit: IT departments are usually only minimally staffed. Due to time pressure or insecurity during the holiday replacement, people may not look at mails very closely. But unfortunately, one click on an allegedly important mail attachment is enough to download malware onto the computer, which then gets into the company network. Sensitising employees, protecting the company network with up-to-date security patches and virus scanners and checking the expiry date of digital certificates should therefore be on the IT tasks list in December.