Experts forecast a rise in computer and cellphone scams
It takes no expert to predict that there will be for sure an increase of sophisticated methods and updates of old scams to try to take control of our computers and cellphones to get identities and money. Yet another year, here comes 2013, scammers are busy or maybe had already developed new ways to swindle us in the coming months.
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This comes as a general rule and everyone must know even without asking tips from the experts, to stay safe one must know the basic vigilance. Now the question is how. This is how: Keep your security software updated and run it regularly. Click only on links from trusted sources; the same goes for buying cellphone apps. Be smart about where and how you navigate in cyberspace.
Five areas where scammers are most likely to be on guard for possible victims:
The scam starts with malicious attachment like any other scam, as soon as you click of the scammer’s email or instant message or you visit a scammer website that usually lure you with enticing videos or promos, ransomware will lock your computer, usually displaying a screen message that appears to be from a law enforcement agency. Pay us, you’re told, and you’ll get back control of your computer.
Once considered a niche scam, ransomware attacks exploded in 2012, hitting some 70,000 computers per month. About 3 percent of victims pay the ransom fee — thanks, in part, to cyber-criminals increasingly using online payment methods to collect, says cyber-security firm Symantec, which recently published a detailed report on this ruse. “In 2013, attackers will use more professional ransom screens, up the emotional stakes to motivate their victims, and use methods that make it harder to recover once compromised,” predicts Symantec’s Kevin Haley.
Spammers had been doing this for years, they distribute 150 billion email messages everyday without the computer daily users knowledge that they were actually take part of the spam. To attract people to watch videos on social networking websites, open email greeting cards and the like, spammers infect random computers with botnet malware that makes the machines secretly send out spam.
In accordance with Georgia Tech researchers, in 2013, will also turn their botnet schemes to what’s known as “the cloud,” the global network of Internet-connected computers that store huge amounts of data, shuttle it around and offer data services. “One possible example is for attackers to use stolen credit card information to purchase cloud computing resources and create dangerous clusters of temporary virtual attack systems,” say Georgia Tech researchers. To understand it more, the scam goes like this, for instance, if you share your family photos online you’re using the cloud. And more and more companies put customer data and computing power on the cloud, there’s an ever-growing collection of prized targets.
You are maybe more familiar with this as pop-up ads or texts on your cellphone. But mobile adware or madware for short is more that just irritating, what they do is give scammers sensitive data such as your location and stored contacts. Symantec expects more madware problems as companies try to make money off free mobile apps by selling collected info to advertisers since they found out abot the most agrresive forms increase by 210 % as per mid-2012.
Social network payment sources.
Where the money at the cyber-crooks follow, social networks are offering more pay services, such as opportunities to send gifts or promote status updates, and crooks saw this as a great opportunity to trick people.
“Symantec anticipates an increase in malware attacks that steal payment credentials in social networks and trick users into providing payment details and other personal and potentially valuable information,” notes Haley.
Search history poisoning.
As the technology evolves scammers are not left behind they also come up with new tricks each time, first was the malware-spreading scammers created their own fly-by-night websites. Then they upped the ante — and believability — with “search engine poisoning” — manipulating search engines such as Bing, Google and Yahoo to display search results that lead you to dangerous destinations. The next scam that we shoul be aware of is “search history poisoning.” This involves exploiting the record that’s kept of websites that you’ve visited. When stored as part of an online profile, a search history lets hackers extend their scamming potential.
“If you compromise a computer, the victim can always switch to a clean machine and your attack is over,” notes Georgia Tech’s Wenke Lee. “If you compromise a user’s search history and hence his online profile, the victim gets the malicious search results no matter where he logs in from.” You can help foil this one by clearing your browser’s search history frequently, or turning it off altogether.