McAfee's The Twelve Scams of Christmas - Page 2

As cybercriminals begin to take advantage of the holiday season, McAfee, Inc. revealed the "Twelve Scams of Christmas” – the twelve most dangerous online scams that computer users should be cautious of this holiday season.

By Robert Siciliano | Posted Nov 29, 2009
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Scam VII: Christmas Carol Lyrics Can Be Dangerous – Risky Holiday Searches

During the holidays, hackers create fraudulent holiday-related Web sites for people searching for a holiday ringtone or wallpaper, Christmas carol lyrics or a festive screensaver.

Downloading holiday-themed files may infect one's computer with spyware, adware or other malware. McAfee found one Christmas carol download site that led searchers to adware, spyware and other potentially unwanted programs.

Scam VIII: Out of Work – Job-Related E-mail Scams

The U.S. unemployment rate recently spiked to 10.2 per cent, the highest level since 1983. Scammers are preying on desperate job-seekers in the poor economy, with the promise of high-paying jobs and work-from-home moneymaking opportunities.

Once interested persons submit their information and pay their "set-up” fee, hackers steal their money instead of following through on the promised employment opportunity.

Scam IX: Outbidding for Crime – Auction Site Fraud

Scammers often lurk on auction sites during the holiday season. Buyers should beware of auction deals that appear too good to be true, because often times these purchases never reach their new owner.

Scam X: Password Stealing Scams

Password theft is rampant during the holidays, as thieves use low-cost tools to uncover a person's password and send out malware to record keystrokes, called keylogging.

Once criminals have access to one or more passwords, they gain vast access to consumers' bank and credit card details and clean out accounts within minutes.

They also commonly send out spam from a user's account to their contacts.

Scam XI: E-Mail Banking Scams

Cybercriminals trick consumers into divulging their bank details by sending official-looking e-mails from financial institutions.

They ask users to confirm their account information, including a user name and password, with a warning that their account will become invalid if they do not comply.

Then they often sell this information through an underground online black market.

McAfee Labs believes cybercriminals are more actively scamming consumers with this tactic during the holidays since people are monitoring their purchases closely.

Scam XII: Your Files for Ransom – Ransomware Scams

Hackers gain control of people's computers through several of these holiday scams. They then act as virtual kidnappers to hijack computer files and encrypt them, making them unreadable and inaccessible.

The scammer holds the user's files ransom by demanding payment in exchange for getting them back.

McAfee advises Internet users to follow these five tips to protect their computers and personal information:

1. Never Click on Links in E-Mails: Go directly to a company or charity's Web site by typing in the address or using a search engine. Never click on a link in an e-mail.

2. Use Updated Security Software: Protect your computer from malware, spyware, viruses and other threats with updated security suites. McAfee� Total Protection software provides fully-featured protection from current and emerging threats.

It also comes built in with McAfee SiteAdvisor� technology, a safe search toolbar to warn consumers of a Web site's safety rating as well as phishing protection.

It uses intuitive red, yellow and green checkmarks to rate potentially dangerous Web sites when searched on Google, Yahoo! or Bing.

3. Shop and Bank on Secure Networks: Only check bank accounts or shop online on secure networks at home or work, wired or wireless.

Wi-Fi networks should always be password-protected so hackers cannot gain access to them and spy on online activity.

Also, remember to only shop on Web sites that begin with https://, instead of http://, and seek out Web sites with security trustmarks, like McAfee SECURE.

4. Use Different Passwords: Never use the same passwords for several online accounts. Diversify passwords and use a complex combination of letters, numbers and symbols.

5. Use Common Sense: If you are ever in doubt that an offer or product is not legitimate, do not click on it. Cybercriminals are behind many of the seemingly "good” deals on the Web, so exercise caution when searching and buying.

If you think you may be a victim of cybercrime, visit McAfee's Cybercrime Response Unit to assess your risks and learn what to do next at www.mcafee.com/cru.

Get a credit freeze. Go online now and search "credit freeze” or "security freeze” and go to consumersunion.org and follow the steps for the state you live in.

This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes the SSN useless to the thief.

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