Phishing scams are a persistent problem for businesses and consumers. The Verizon 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report revealed that at least one in 10 people fall for phishing attempts.
During the holiday season, inboxes everywhere are flooded with e-cards and messages from relatives, friends and well-wishers. Unfortunately, some of these emails may include nefarious software.
“Around the holidays, a very common ploy for cyber criminals is to send fake e-greeting cards with malicious files attached,” said Craig Young, security researcher at Tripwire. “It’s easy for busy, distracted consumers to become victims of these schemes, but armed with a few basic security practices, they can drastically reduce their chances of being victimized.”
Young recommends consumers take the following precautions during the holiday season:
- Ignore and delete messages with poor grammar or formatting, particularly ones that include file attachments or links, as these are indicative of phishing or spam emails. Also be suspicious of emails that are missing names or use nondescript greetings, such as “Dear Mom and Dad.”
- Never open emails from unknown addresses with undisclosed recipients, especially if the message contains attachments.
- If you receive an e-greeting card, consider calling the sender first to confirm if they sent one, and if they didn’t, don’t open it.
- Always run anti-virus software and keep the signatures up-to-date. If you click on something inappropriate, anti-virus software may prevent a malware infection.
- Apple devices aren’t immune to malware or phishing. As the number of Apple users has continued to grow, there has been a corresponding increase in malicious software targeting OS X platforms.
“Many people look forward to connecting with friend and family during the holidays and cyber criminals take advantage of that,” said Young. “Consumers who take basic precautions are far less likely to be victimized during the busy holiday season.”