Valentine’s Day was this week, but it wasn’t all heart-shaped pizzas and flowers. Holidays are always popular times for hackers and other malicious individuals to plan attacks; phishing attacks are especially prominent during these times. After all, holidays are emotional times when we are more likely to pounce on what looks like a good deal. Holidays are out of the norm, so we accept things that would otherwise seem amiss. Let’s take a look at how some of that happens.
Holiday related emails can catch us off-guard.
Like we said earlier, holidays are full of events that are out of the norm. You might exchange gifts or send out an email blast that’s holiday-related when you otherwise would not. Hackers try to take advantage of this by joining in on the chaos and sending infected e-cards or other friendly-looking greetings. You should never trust an email with attachments that you don’t know the origin of. Emails from “secret admirers” for example, should be treated with extreme caution.
Additional, unexpected charges are often the result of a scam.
This past Valentine’s day featured a very interesting scam: Alcohol being delivered as a special delivery with an “additional charge.” When the receiver paid the $5 using a credit card, the scammer would just run up the bill and steal as much money as they wished. This is an interesting scam because it preys on the same principle as the infected e-cards; we are too accepting of things that come out of the ordinary around the holidays. As responsible people who utilize digital services like email and online banking, we have to be eternally vigilant about these things.
A general rule to avoid phishing attacks and more, is to be careful.
Holidays are fun, and being careful can help them stay that way. There is nothing worse than having to cancel fun, holiday plans because your identity has been stolen. Rather than letting that happen, you need to take the time to examine emails or events out of the ordinary. Trust your instincts, and make sure that you’re taking the time to develop those instincts. If something feels wrong, the it probably is. If it isn’t, then you’ll be able to ascertain that as well by fully aware of the situation before making any decisions. Social engineering is a powerful tool that helps hacks launch their phishing schemes, but you can protect yourself with the right knowledge.
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