Consumers are being warned about some of the online scams cyber criminals are conjuring up to take advantage of the impending festive season.
Security vendor, McAfee, has shared some tips, ‘12 scams of Christmas’ to help consumers understand what to look out for and how they can secure their mobile devices.
“More and more, consumers are using their devices to seek out the best bargains online in a bid to make the Christmas shopping process as painless as possible. In doing so they need to be aware of the ways that criminals are looking to exploit them,” McAfee vice president and CTO, Mike Sentonas, said. “ Understanding what to watch out for and how to properly secure their devices gives consumers the information they need to protect their digital lives and personal information.”
The top 12 scams of Christmas include:
1. You’ve Got Mail! — As Christmas retail sales continue to migrate online, the risk for shipping notification and phishing scams are increasing. Though malware is a year-round risk, since many people do their Christmas shopping online, consumers are more apt to click on a shipping notification or phishing e-mail because they think it is legit.
2. Deceptive Advertising — Everyone is searching for good deals during the Christmas break. Dangerous links, phony contests on social media, and bogus gift cards are just some of the ways scammers try to steal your personal information.
3. Chilling Charities — During the holidays, many consumers give back by donating to their favorite charity. Sadly, no good deed goes unpunished. Be wary of fake charities that could reach you via email, or are shared virally through social media.
4. Buyer Beware — There are just some scams that you can’t help but fall victim to, unfortunately. Point of sale malware that leads to exposing credit card information falls into this category. Make sure you check your credit card statements vigilantly.
5. iScams — New mobile apps for Android and iOS devices are added every day. Even the most official-looking or festive apps could be malicious and access your personal information.
6. Getting Carded — Well-known e-card sites are safe, but be wary of potential scams.
7. Christmas Travel Scams — Fake online travel deal links are bountiful, but there are also risks that exist once you arrive at your destination including spyware that can access your information through logging onto infected PCs onsite.
8. Bank Robocall Scam — When holiday spending increases and consumers are aware of the abuse to their bank accounts and credit cards, hackers use this as an opportunity. In most cases, consumers receive a fake phone call from one of these institutions from an automated (or not) “security agent” stating that the user’s account has been compromised and requesting personal information.
9. ATM Skimming — Criminals can access your information at ATMs by installing skimming devices to steal the data off your card’s magnetic strip and either using a video camera or keypad overlay to capture your PIN. A simple solution is to look carefully at your ATM for anything suspicious and cover the keypad when entering your PIN.
10. ‘Year in Review’ Traps — Many news services capitalise on the holidays by developing ‘Year in Review’ articles. Links from phony sources could infect and compromise the security of company devices.
11. BYO...Device — People are more likely to forget their smart phones in public places. While inconvenient for them, it is also way for hackers to access sensitive personal information and business data if the appropriate security measures are not in place.
12. Bad USB Blues — During the holiday season, you may see an increase in gift baskets from vendors who want to continue doing business with your company in the upcoming year. One of the most popular items in these baskets includes branded USBs. Beware of allowing your employees to use these, as undetectable malware is sometimes pre-installed on them.
To stay protected during the festive season McAfee recommends users to do their research on companies to ensure their legitimacy before purchasing from them; visit a site directly for their shopping deals rather than email links; review apps before downloading them; check credit card statements often; stay informed and educate employees on the potential security pitfalls.