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Security Experts Release ’12 Scams of Christmas’ [AUDIO]

NEW JERSEY 101.5

The holiday season is upon us and while many people are planning their festivities, they are likely to use their digital devices in the process.

Mario Tama, Getty Images

But, security experts are warning consumers to be aware that there are cyber criminals looking to turn their holiday cheer into fast cash. McAfee has released its annual ‘12 Scams of Christmas‘ list of digital dangers to be aware of as you surf the internet for deals.

“This year, criminals are using old scams with some new twists,” said Robert Siciliano, McAfee Online Security Expert. “Bad guys are targeting people online and on the ground. They’re going after our mobile devices and mobile applications. Many of these scams are designed to capture usernames and passwords.”

Among the most popular scams:

  • Not-So-Merry Mobile Apps – While applications may save time when it comes to holiday planning, malicious mobile apps are ready to ruin the holiday spirit. Official-looking software for holiday shopping, including those that feature celebrity or company endorsements, could be malicious, designed to steal or send out your personal data.
  • Holiday Mobile SMS Scams -These scams are common throughout the year but are expected to be more prevalent during the holidays. FakeInstaller tricks Android users into thinking it is a legitimate installer for an application and then quickly takes advantage of the unrestricted access to smartphones, sending SMS messages to premium rate numbers without the users’ consent.
  • Hot Holiday Gift Scams – Advertisements that offer deals on must-have items might be too good to be true. Clever crooks will post dangerous links, phony contests on social media sites, and send phishing emails to entice viewers to reveal personal information or download malware onto their devices.
  • Seasonal Travel Scams – As people travel to visit their loved ones, online scammers are waiting to attack when their guard is down. Phony travel deal links and notifications are common, as are hackers waiting to steal your identity upon arrival at your destination. When logging into an infected PC with an email username and password, scammers can install keylogging spyware, keycatching hardware, and more.
  • Dangerous E-Seasons Greetings – While many plan to wish friends a “Merry Christmas” or “Season’s Greetings” via digital e-cards, some hackers are wishing vulnerable consumers a “Merry Malware.” Legitimate-looking e-cards can cause you to download a Trojan or other virus onto your machine or device after clicking a link or opening an attachment.

“Bad guys will send out phishing emails or ‘too good to be true’ offers that are designed to lure you into clicking links or forking over your credit card information and you’ll never get the service. This time of year, people do travel and when you go online, you may wind up at rogue websites that don’t exist two weeks later,” said Siciliano.

“If you get an e-card, some of them will be legit, some could be from scammers. So, always look for scammer grammar, or misspellings. Make sure your name is in the email. You may also want to call the person who sent it to you to verify that it is in fact, from them.”

Siciliano said when you order something from a company and get an email right away to confirm your purchase, you can rest assured that it’s likely from that company. However, you can also log in to that actual website to double check.

“Keep in mind, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is,” said Siciliano. “Always be aware, always be alert and always be on your toes. There is always a bad guy out there trying to pick your pocket.”

“In the virtual world, just make sure you install anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing software and a firewall, you’ll be fine. That will make sure your device is as locked down as it needs to be.”

For more information, visit @McAfeeConsumer with #12Scams or visit Robert Siciliano’s blog post, Scrooge’s 12 Scams of the Holidays.

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