Cyber-criminals leverage Valentine’s Day with fake links and e-cards

13 Feb 2013

Cyber-criminals will be taking advantage of this Valentine’s Day to trick internet users with fake files, links and e-cards designed to extract users’ personal data, warns the anti-malware laboratory of Panda Security PandaLabs.

“There will be an increase in the number of emails in circulation with links for downloading romantic greeting cards, videos, gift ideas, and Facebook and Twitter messages related to Valentine’s Day,” said Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs.

“However, not all of them will be legitimate. In many cases, they will be just scams designed by cyber-criminals to infect computers and steal confidential information through social engineering techniques.”

Cyber-criminals use social engineering techniques to trick victims into divulging their personal information or installing a malicious programme on their computers that captures information and sends it on to criminals.

Corrons added that today’s computer users are more likely to receive spam messages with links to online shops with too-good-to-be-true offers, and bills for purchases they haven’t made.

He offers tips on how computer users can protect themselves from Valentine’s Day scams:

  • Do not run or download attached files that come from unknown sources. Stay on alert for files or links that are related to Valentine’s Day this time of year.
  • Do not open emails or messages received on social networks from senders you do not know.
  • Do not click any links included in email, social network or messaging application messages, even though they may come from reliable sources. It is better to type the URL directly into the browser, according to PandaLabs.  
  • Do not use shared or public computers, or an unsecured Wi-Fi connection, for making transactions or operations that require you to enter passwords or other personal details.
  • Have security software installed on your computer that is capable of detecting both known and new malware strains.

Malware envelope image via Shutterstock

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic