Fresh hack attacks and scams you should be wary about

13.12.2013 Roberto Arduous
If you think you can recognize an online scam when you see one, think again. In the recent years, hackers and cyber criminals have become more vigilant, subtle and ever-more creative. There are various new and nuanced attack methods previously unheard of, affecting thousands of people daily, and they’ve all became much more sophisticated than an email from a fake Nigerian prince.

One such innovative practice is called ‘ransomware’, which entrapped more than 300,000 people in this year’s second quarter. Let’s say you’re browsing through a site you’re not really familiar with. It’s nothing illegal or immoral, but it is uncharted territory for you. Suddenly, your screen is bombarded with pop-ups of illegal pornographic images, and with no action from you or a heads-up, the National Security Administration (the scam is US-based) sends you a message that it’s locking your computer due to suspicion of downloading and/or distributing illegal content. Here are a couple of other new scams you should be careful about:

Avoid suspicious and unfamiliar mobile apps. The time where online scams were endemic to PC are long past, and malware attacks on the Android OS rose by 35% in the last couple of months alone. So the first step to protect yourself would be to double-check and research any unknown app that you wish to download. Just because it is in the app store does by no way mean it is automatically virus-free.

Next, be very careful when receiving an e-mail from Microsoft. Con men have recently taken on a role of Microsoft employees, which send you e-mails or IMs warning you about your computer being at risk. In order to help you fix the purported breach, they provide you with a link you should open so that they can gain a remote access to your PC and solve the problem. Once they get in, they install malware, steal your data, the usual song and dance. How to avoid this? Don’t believe a contact from the company that you haven’t solicited. Only give your data if you initiated the communication, and even then, check the contact info the company seems to be stating.

Similar type of attack is a so-called authority scam. You get a text, mail, or even a call letting you know there’s an issue with your tax return, credit cards, checking accounts etc. Just be aware that no company or a governmental institution will ever require you to provide any sort of personal data by e-mail.

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