Hoax emails that offer designer or brand-name goods at knock-down prices are this year's biggest danger when it comes to shopping for Christmas gifts online, says G Data.

According to the security firm these emails contain integrated links that attempt to lure users websites infected with malware or to a fake online shop in the hope of extracting web user's banking and other personal data.

"Cyber criminals target internet users in the run-up to Christmas," said Eddy Willems, security evangelist at G Data.

With predictions from the IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) that the UK will be responsible for 30 percent of all European online shopping this year, with some £3.72bn alone being spent in the first two weeks of December, its more important to stay vigilant when shopping online.

"They [cyber criminals] use a variety of tactics to infect unsuspecting users with malware or steal personal data such as online banking or credit card information. Users should therefore make sure they are using an effective and comprehensive security solution and closely check online shops for reliability and security."

The security firm advised online shoppers not to use links embedded in emails and instead type in the URL to the browser themselves.

G Data also said online banking fraud, specifically in the form of banking Trojans that intervene in online transactions to obtain credit and debit card details, pose a threat to Brits doing their festive shopping online this year. Furthermore, the security firm warned web users to be on the look out for emails purporting to be from delivery services, fake payment services and even hoax online Christmas greetings cards, all of which often contain attachments that will infect your PC with malware.

The security advised web users to always use security software, ensure updates for their operating system are always installed and stay vigilant when shopping online - keeping an eye out for suspect sites and ensuring it has the padlock icon and https:// in the URL, indicating its secure.

See our feature for more tips on how to stay safe when shopping online.