Eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic and online shopping has grown strongly, lifting 72.9 per cent over the same period last year.

Unsurprisingly, hand sanitiser and wipes has been the biggest category to increase, rising 900 per cent.

Online shopping isn't just booming in major cities, it is growing strongly in regional locations as well.

Between March and October, more one million new households shopped online.

Many retailers have also successfully used click-and-collect shopping options during COVID-19 to minimise contact between staff and customers.

This new normal will mean more people will be doing their Christmas shopping online this year.

Unfortunately, this means more opportunities for criminals to carry out cyberattacks.

They often do this by targeting consumers and businesses using email and website scams, or malware - software which can damage your device or allow a hacker to access your data.

Some things to action before you start your online Christmas shopping:

Use a strong and separate password for your email

If a hacker gets into your email, they could reset your other account passwords and access information you have about yourself.

Your email password should be strong and different to all your other passwords.

This will make it harder to crack or guess.

Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication helps to stop hackers from getting into your accounts, even if they have your password.

It does this by asking for more information to prove your identity, such as SMS verification or biometrics, for example, a fingerprint.

Update your devices

Out-of-date software, apps and operating systems contain weaknesses. This makes them easier to hack.

This software is regularly fixed via the release of updates.

When you update your devices and software, this helps to keep hackers out.

Turn on automatic updates for your devices and software that offer it.

For those devices and software which need to be updated manually, never ignore reminders.

Back up your data

Backing up means creating a copy of your information and saving it to another device or to cloud storage (online).

Backing up regularly means you will always have a recent version of your information saved.

Following these tips will greatly increase your online hygiene and help you have a safe and secure Christmas shopping period.

Nigel Phair is the director of UNSW Canberra Cyber.

This article was originally published by Australian Community Media