“T’was the night before Christmas and” …. Well it really lasts from November through January, that is. What lasts for months on end you ask? Well SPAM, that pesky e-mail promising you free stuff or telling you that your package has been setup for delivery. Spam is not just something to worry about during the months of the holidays, but it tends to come in very high volumes during the holiday season.
As retailers around the world ramp up for the holiday shopping season, holiday themed spam and phishing messages will be heading for inboxes everywhere. While we can update our filters and pay close attention to what is hitting our borders, all may not have as good a protection on their personal accounts as they do at work, so give your coworkers an early festive present by warning them of the common threats that hit this time of year.
Whether in form of festive greeting cards, holiday screensavers, or applications for your Facebook page, festive themed malware comes straight from the Grinch and tries to take advantage of people’s holiday spirit. Making sure that antivirus software is up-to-date is critical, and treating any software or app with a healthy bit of skepticism is a way to play it safe.
Whether the hot gift this year will be tablets, or smart phones, or coffee makers, one thing is for certain; supply will not meet demand. Scammers will exploit this by sending emails offering unbelievable deals, or stating that they have in stock what everyone else sold out. If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Remind others to only shop with reputable vendors, and to check out special offers by going to the website directly instead of clicking links in emails they weren’t expecting.
Online Coupon Offers
Phishing attacks may offer incredible savings in exchange for personal information. Before filling out any form to get a discount code, make sure you are dealing with a real vendor. Again, going to the vendor’s site by typing the URL in by hand is safer than clicking links in emails, or calling a brick and mortar to verify a coupon offer is legitimate can save time and disappointment.
We should be very careful about email confirmations for purchases they did not make. Scammers can mock up an order confirmation for a high priced purchase easily; and they are counting on the victim clicking the link to cancel the order rather than confirming it is legitimate. Whether that delivers malware, or tries to harvest personal information and login credentials, it’s a way to exploit someone’s fears of fraudulent transactions.
Pleas for Help
This is also the time of year when phishing expeditions pull out the really mean-spirited methods. These can be pleas for help from strangers with incredibly sympathetic stories, or from relatives allegedly stranded and needing money, who can email but strangely not call for help. We all need to be aware of these scams, and be wary of any request for help that they cannot confirm as legitimate.
Take a moment or two today to warn others of these scams. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, and helps make sure no spammer named Scrooge spoils their holiday.