The “Nigerian prince scam” is one of the oldest scams on the internet dating back to the mid-years 90. If you have been victims – probable – you know what it is, otherwise it is soon said. Basically you receive an email from an alleged fallen victim who asks for help to transfer a large sum of money out of the country, offering a percentage of the operation in exchange. This, like many others, have been scams that have been around for decades but still manage to claim victims.
Unfortunately, the current health emergency situation has further worsened the situation and cyber criminals, always looking for new ways to defraud the unsuspecting victims , are trying to exploit Coronavirus to launch potentially very dangerous computer attacks .
In the case of Covid – 19, in fact, there are email-phishing that declare that they have information on how to protect themselves from the disease, but which actually contain malware with web links or attachments. Check Point Research recently showed a 30% increase in cyber attacks related to the Covid pandemic – 19 in the first two weeks of May, many of which occurred via email.
When an email or a text message reaches our mobile phone or laptop with promises of information, video clips or photos on a subject so significant that it attracts attention, the risk of putting aside the traditional distrust and performing the fatal click is high. In this case, the easiest thing that happens is that we contract a ransomware infection which soon encrypted all our data, applications and systems.
But what are the most common online threats via email and how to avoid falling into the hands of cyber criminals ? Cisco has identified four, in particular, that it is good to know and to learn to defend oneself from.
Surely this is the most common scam today. A phishing campaign is designed to ensure that the victim – after receiving an email with a professional tone and apparently sent by a serious and reliable company – gives up username, password and personal information that will be used for purposes malicious. For example, you may receive an email from a company that claims to take care of TV subscriptions, claiming that your payment has not arrived and threatening to incur heavy penalties if you do not immediately regularize your position.
Packaging and invoice spam
“I don’t remember signing up for a subscription for this app.” But that’s what claims the email you received. And the invoice says that the subscription was purchased in Sri Lanka. “There must be an error” you say, and open the attached pdf to check. Unfortunately, that PDF contained an exploit, which eventually transferred the Emotet trojan to your device . The scam varies, but usually focuses on a package you haven’t ordered, an invoice for something you haven’t purchased, or a monthly payment for a subscription or service you haven’t signed up for. This can have a number of harmful consequences, such as the theft of bank credentials.
It is therefore important to pay particular attention to the warnings that appear on the extensions that must be enabled. Rarely are such extensions really necessary so do not proceed in any way.
Digital extortion campaigns are also on the rise, thanks to the fact that our phones and PCs are increasingly full of personal photos and videos. These scams threaten the personal image , social relationships and sometimes even life . Someone sends you an email claiming to have violated a pornographic website and accuses you of visiting it. The scammer says he took control of your monitor and webcam, and recorded both you and the pornographic material and created a video.
As if this were not shocking enough, the scammer often claims to have collected all your contacts and threatens to send the video to everyone (the so-called Revenge Porn). At this point the attacker plays the part of the “good” and promises not to broadcast the video and to make everything disappear for a sum of money. All false. This is another series of phishing campaigns sent en masse, in the hope of deceiving a sufficient number of recipients to make the fraudster’s efforts profitable.
This is perhaps the most unpleasant of all scams, because it leverages people’s willingness to help someone in times of need. Fraudsters will make up some moving stories: they have lost their homes, their parents have driven them out, they need expensive medical care, and so on, and they will try to use crowdfunding websites, such as GoFundMe to extort money from them.
If a donation is requested in the received email , carefully check the content and if you want to join the campaign, first make the necessary checks: there is a charity directly involved (with their logo on the page) or are you paying for a natural person? The email and the related redirection page must also be very clear on how the money will be spent. If there is no mention of it, it is certainly a first alarm bell.
In the gallery above further valuable advice, to protect yourself from scam emails and attacks from the increasingly advanced cybercrime.
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