Beware of electronic Valentine's Day cards

Credit: KGW.com

Beware of electronic Valentine's Day cards

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by Wayne Havrelly

Bio | Email | Follow: @HavrellyKGW

kgw.com

Posted on February 12, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Updated Saturday, Feb 13 at 3:16 PM

Some call it “Pink Friday" -- the Friday before Valentines Day has become a big money maker for cyber criminals. 

Computer security experts are seeing a surge in fraudulent e-cards spreading across the Internet.  The crooks usually begin with touching e-mail messages. 

A popular one features a pair of cute puppies saying you’ve received an e-card from your Mom.  It asks you to click on something to download it.  But these puppies are not from Mom.

“They’re actually puppies of destruction,” said David Beveridge who helps the McAfee company battle malicious software.  

“Fraudulent Valentines Day e-cards are making the rounds,” said Beveridge. “You won’t know you’re infected until one day your identity is stolen or you have fraudulent charges from Kerblackastan.” 

At the McAfee computer lab in Beaverton, experts track cyber criminals around the globe and constantly update their companies anti-virus software. 

Last year McAfee spotted 2.5 million new types of malicious software on the Internet.  That’s nearly double the amount from just the year before. 

Computer experts have always seen a surge in fraudulent activity right before Valentine’s Day when so many people sent e-cards.  However, this year, the cyber-crooks have discovered a new hunting ground. 

“We expert social networks to be the threat of the year in 2010,” said Beveridge.  Scammers are now using social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter to attack computers all over the world.  With hundreds of millions of users social networks are a cyber criminals dream. 

The attacks almost always happen when you’re asked to download something, like a player to watch a sweet Valentines day card. 

“You shouldn’t need to install things to view things,” said Beveridge. 

Your best protection is to never open up anything from someone you don’t know, even if it’s a message about cute puppies.  It’s also crucial to keep your anti-virus software updated. 

Ten years ago, experts recommended you update that software once a month, then it changed to once a week.  Now, it’s recommended you update that software every day.  

 

 

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