Valentine’s Day will be on us before we know it – so, it’s not too early to get ready for the deluge of “I love you”, “Wish you were mine”………………., and of course, the customary – “Happy Valentine’s Day” emails.
Hopefully, you will have a Happy Valentine’s Day – but, that happy feeling could be ruined, if you fall victim to the explosion of “spam and scam” that’s aimed at lovers, this time of year – every year. Much of it designed to take a swing at unsuspecting users machines – leading to a malware infection.
In previous years, starting just about this time, we saw abnormally high rates of this type of spam and, since cyber crooks are opportunity driven; we’ll see much more of this type of cybercriminal activity this year, I expect.
Perhaps you’re a very cool person who’s significant other is always sending you neat little packages in your email. MP3 files, screensavers, cartoons, YouTube videos, and the like. Could be – you get them so often, that you just automatically click on the email attachment without even thinking. If, you are this type of person, here’s a word of advice – start thinking.
The hook, as it always is in this type of socially engineered email scam, is crafted around exploiting emotions. We’re all pretty curious creatures and, let’s face it, who doesn’t like surprises. I think it’s safe to say, we all find it difficult, if not impossible, to not peek at love notes received via email.
The unfortunate truth is, these spam emails often contain links that deliver advertisements, or worse – redirect the victim to an unsafe site from which malware can be installed on the victim’s computer.
Here’s a tip – If you see something along the lines of – This email contains graphics, so if you don’t see them, view it in your browser – consider very carefully – before you click on the link.
A couple of years ago, a friend, who is an astute and aware computer user, fell for one of these carefully crafted teasing emails. On opening the email, he was taken to a site which had pictures of hearts and puppies, and was then asked to choose which one was for him. You’ll notice that “choosing” involved opening an executable file – a cardinal sin.
Fortunately, he got his geek on in time – common sense prevailed, and he backed out of this site. If he had clicked on this executable file, he would have begun the process of infecting his machine with a Trojan. A Trojan which, in this case, connected to a remote command and control site – (effectively, turning over control of his computer to a cybercriminal). Nasty – I think you’ll agree.
Experienced users are on guard year round for these, and other types of scam/spam email.
You know what to do; right?
Don’t open emails that come from untrusted sources.
Don’t run files that you receive via email without making sure of their origin.
Don’t click links in emails. If they come from a known source, type them on the browser’s address bar.
If they come from an untrusted source, simply ignore them, as they could take you to a web site designed to download malware onto your computer.
Cyber crooks have moved on from using just emails, as a malware delivery vehicle. So, be on the lookout for fraudulent Valentine’s Day greetings in:
Instant Messenger applications.
Chat forums, and so on.
This just in @ 11:56
That settles it – I’m not giving any Uzbek women my love in protest. Sorry ladies. 🙂