Have you already bought all of your Christmas and New Year gifts, booked holiday tickets and hotel rooms? There’s a good chance that a good portion of those reading this will not have finished yet and still have some last minute things to buy, but it’s important that you don’t become a part of a phishing campaign.
In 2014 up to 51% of people in UK and Germany shop online, with even more interacting with vendors via different online channels (e-mail letters, social networks, etc.) to browse goods or get discounts. In the UK, South Africa and Germany, one consumer in every two uses smartphones to purchase online.
I got a great deal on cyber Monday yesterday!… I had $1300 stolen from my checking account and spent at some… http://t.co/MjVFYf8pQ6
— Thomas Hackett (@TJRHackett) December 2, 2014
The problem with this is with such a huge rise in users, hackers and exploiters also rise as well: it’s really easy to pay with your smartphone and its becoming easier to attack these devices as technology matures. The situation is compound by the simple fact that most people don’t understand what’s going on when they purchase something online. We know how quickly and easy we can buy apps and things with our devices, but we are almost illiterate in terms of mobile security. Despite this, it’s not just the computer illiterate who are hacked – security experts are not immune and several have seen their accounts compromised.
How ironic, the crime reporter has his bank account stolen. Following up on this breaking story in true first-person fashion.
— Daniel J. Gross (@DanieljGross) December 18, 2014
With that in mind, we’ve compiled this short but useful guide to keeping you safe this Christmas. Here’s a short list of things to watch out for this year. And remember: forewarned is forearmed.
Deceitful greeting cards. We all like these colourful Christmas cards: cute, funny and even animated. The problem is, is that you don’t know if it hides a trojan virus or worse behind its zany images. You can receive a letter that looks like as if it were sent by a legitimate vendor (e.g., Hallmark). It may ask you to download a small file to your computer in order for it to load. If it does, chances are it’s not what it appears and is actually trying to install malicious code onto your PC. Remember the golden rule: if you’re not sure, delete it!
Infectious online discounts. If you receive an email containing promotional gifts such as money off or vouchers then chances are you’ll take up the offer; after all, who doesn’t like money off? But again you have to remain cautious. As in real-life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
The price of compassion Some cyber scams come in different shapes as well. Some will ask you to help support orphanages or the sick and needy. If you do want to give money to charity, the better option is to visit the website yourself by using a search engine or by tapping in the url in your web browser. Much safer.
A heavy-priced virtual Santa’s hat Gamers are common victims of phishing campaigns. Hackers steal banking credentials, game items and high-level characters to earn quick money. They can do it in many ways, for example, send you Trojan software disguised as a screensaver of a powerful item. If you see something like this from somebody you don’t know, delete the email!
All of these methods do well only if a user gets excited and forget about security rules. So keep calm and be attentive!
Beware of public Wi-Fi.
This video taken by CNN money shows how easily one can hack for example your e-mail and Amazon accounts and find out your banking credentials if you connect to a public Wi-Fi network. If you do need to connect to a public Wi-Fi, then make sure you run your connection through a VPN – that way you’ll be sure your connection is secure. If you want to learn more about what VPN’s are and how they can protect your data, check out this page here.
If you want to send money
If you need to send money to somebody over the internet, make sure you do it via reputable sites – don’t click on email links offering to do the hard work for you. Remember to type the url into the address bar yourself or use a search engine to find the correct site.
Do not download any pirated content.
It can be dangerous as it’s not coming from a reputable site or account. But if you do insist on playing with fire, you can always count on Kaspersky to keep you protected! 🙂
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our readers!