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Valentine’s Day is Ripe for Cyber Scams

February 13, 2013

By Cynthia Herbert :: 12:33 PM

Avoid Valentine's Day scams.Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and as couples around the world get ready to celebrate with the traditional exchange of presents and cards, cyber-criminals are getting ready too, to take advantage of the holiday to trick users and infect as many computers via Internet and e-mail scams.

“In the coming days, there will be an increase in the number of emails in circulation with links for downloading romantic greeting cards, videos, gift ideas, and Facebook and Twitter messages related to Valentine’s Day,” said Luis Corrons, technical director at PandaLabs, a malware research laboratory. “However, not all of them will be legitimate. In many cases they will be just scams designed by cyber-criminals to infect computers and steal confidential information through social engineering techniques.”

These social engineering techniques are designed to trick users into handing over their data, or installing a malicious program on their computer which captures information and sends it to the criminals.

As many people use social media sites like Facebook or Twitter to communicate, special care must be taken with messages and links received across these networks. One popular malware tactic involves posting links to news stories or hard-to-resist offers to grab victims’ attention.

A popular infection source is through email. “Today, users are more likely to receive spam messages with links to online shops with too-good-to-be true offers, bills for purchases they haven’t made, and all sorts of other scams aimed at tricking them and infecting their computers,” explained Corrons.

Some tips to avoid problems from unhelpful cupids this year:

  • Do not run files that are sent to you from unknown sources. Keep alert especially for files that claim to be Valentine Day e-greeting cards, romantic videos, etc.
  • Do not open or click on messages received on social networks from unknown senders.
  • Do not click any links included in email messages, even though they may appear to come from reliable sources. It is better to type a URL directly in the browser.
  • If the site seems legitimate, but asks you to download something, be suspicious and don’t accept the download. If you download and install any type of executable file and you see unusual messages on your computer, your system has likely been infected with malware.
  • Avoid the use of shared or public computers, or unsecured WiFi connections, for completing transactions that require you to enter passwords or personal details.