Preying on our internet fears

Hackers started the new year with a bang: scams designed to prey on our Internet fears.

We’re all still getting inundated with the fake SEO “get on the front page of Google”  phone calls and emails from Nigerian princes with funds they need to transfer. But hackers, scammers and malware miscreants are handing out some new Internet party favours.

Two clients recently reported getting calls from “Windows Security” saying there was a problem with their computers. This is the new variant of the “Microsoft Support” phone trickSecure safety fraud that has been around for almost three years now. The callers ask for remote control of your computer and for your credit card information. Just say no.

Last week I got a phishing email I’d never seen before. This one was targeted at people who shop online lots. The email purported to from Verified by Visa (which is a legitimate service to protect your credit card from fraudulent online purchases) but the domain name in the email address was clearly false: visa spelled incorrectly. The email contained a picture that might have been the Verified by Visa logo but my Outlook blocked the download. I carefully followed the link to the picture (please don’t try this at home) and it was from wordpress web site for a county organization in the United States that obviously has been hacked.  The phishing email requested I click on a link to register my credit cards for protection. Just say no to clicking on links in strange emails.

This morning a client forwarded an email he got purporting to be from his antivirus software company claiming his license had expired and he really needed to purchase a new one online. The link clearly went to different web site than the email was from which was different from the name of the software company. But you could see how someone who wasn’t reading carefully and didn’t know what antivirus they did have might have fallen for this in a panic to protect their computer. Always keep your software license information handy.

So be aware that the latest Internet scams are targeting your security fears.