Valentine’s Day 2018: Dangerous declarations of love from the Darknet
G DATA warns lovers against scams on their special day and shares some security tips
On Valentine's Day, countless red roses, bottles of perfume and other gifts are exchanged between lovers as well as a host of virtual greeting cards. Cybercriminals take advantage of this and make them a target to steal their money or personal data. They approach their victims through mails with alleged bargain offers for popular Valentine's Day gifts and electronic declarations of love. Often, the messages contain links to websites containing malicious code or dangerous file attachments. G DATA sheds some light on the scams and shares a few tips so that lovers can enjoy their day safely.
"Cybercriminals deliberately use special occasions and celebrations for their campaigns," explains Tim Berghoff, G DATA Security Evangelist. "The perpetrators are especially after personal data, such as access data for user accounts or credit card information. Directly stealing money with the help of dubious offers is another string to the criminal’s bow.”
The IT security expert advises internet users to be cautious. Received messages should be checked carefully and deleted in case of doubt. Moreover, a comprehensive security solution should be in use on the PC and mobile device and the operating system and all installed programs refreshed using updates.
Many couples exchange gifts on Valentine’s Day. Mailboxes are therefore often flooded with alleged unbeatable bargains, in which popular Valentine's Day gifts are advertised at very low prices. If users fall for it, they are likely to get fake or no goods in return, even after paying in full for their purchases.
Electronic greetings are still very popular. Criminals exploit this and send alleged declarations of love with a dangerous malicious code attachment on or around Valentine’s Day.
The perpetrators not only use e-cards but prowl the social networks in search of unsuspecting users. They send out Valentine's greetings to users using unreadable shortened URLs. These direct to a malicious code web page that infects the computer or mobile device.
- Close software security holes: An up-to-date operating system, as well as updates of applications and apps, close critical security holes. Attacks are therefore more likely to miss the mark and the computer or mobile device will remain secure.
- Protected by security software: A powerful security solution should be standard on every PC and mobile device. In addition to effective anti-virus protection, it should also include a spam filter, firewall, and real-time protection against online threats.
- Send it straight to the digital recycle bin: Messages with dubious offers and spam emails should be deleted immediately. Users should avoid opening links and file attachments at all costs.
- Safe and secure online payment: For online payments such as Paypal and other financial transactions, users should look for secure two-way authentication method if at all possible. G DATA’s BankGuard technology, which is a component of all of the German IT security provider's solutions, offers additional protection in this regard.
- Only buy in reputable online shops: Shoppers should study online shops carefully before purchasing. Shops should be upfront about shipping as well as any costs associated with the purchase in their general business terms and conditions. Checking a shop’s imprint is also a good thing to do. In addition, an online search is worthwhile to determine whether the operator is a known "black sheep".
- Beware of short URLs: Shortened links can lead straight into the malicious code trap. Users should therefore be careful and not click unknown URLs.
- Beware of messages from unknown social media contacts: Users should be careful when receiving alleged Valentine's greetings on social media from strangers. The links contained in them could lead directly to websites with malicious code.