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October 17th, 2014

Ebola scams spread faster than actual disease in panic-striken U.S.

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Cybercrooks use popular stories in the news to deceive people into giving up confidential information.

The dreaded disease Ebola that is spreading rapidly throughout West Africa made landfall in the US recently, and since then many news agencies have sensationalized the “outbreak” with constant coverage. Panic has grown as politicians raise the public’s fears and medical experts are confusing people with contradictory information. These things all combine to create the perfect atmosphere for scammers.

It’s quite common for cybercrooks to use social engineering techniques to fool people during a big news event, and we have seen an increase in phishing attempts. The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) issued an alert today to remind users to protect against email scams and cyber campaigns using the Ebola virus disease as a theme.

“Phishing emails may contain links that direct users to websites which collect personal information such as login credentials, or contain malicious attachments that can infect a system, “ says the advisory.

Users are encouraged to use caution when encountering these types of email messages and take the following preventative measures to protect themselves:

Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news, fun and contest information, please follow us on FacebookTwitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.

 

Categories: General Tags: , , ,
August 22nd, 2014

How to look like an idiot on Facebook and Twitter

Looking like an idiot on social networks like Facebook and Twitter is not too difficult. Many people have achieved this state of being without much thought at all. So c’mon! With a little effort and commitment you can lose your job, get arrested, or alienate your friends! ;)

Facebook idiot

Here are the top 3 ways you can look like a total nincompoop on social media.

  1. 1. Post rants and other fun messages. Anger is a completely natural, healthy emotion. Some people think it’s a good idea to try to control it so they won’t, for example, drive their fist through the wall or punch their co-worker in the nose. But now, you can release all that pent up emotion by communicating your feelings on social media!

Like this woman: After being passed over for a promotion at work, an Arizona woman posted an angry Facebook message in reaction. How good it must have felt to let her frustration out. Since she was friends with her co-workers, they all saw it. It said,

This place is a joke!!! I wonder if I passed up a good opportunity by being at this place. I absolutely hate fake and lazy ppl!!! Ugh, the ones who actually work are the ones to blame??? WTF? #TwistedMinds.”

Those co-workers of hers, not the fake or lazy ones,  were sure to surround her with support and encouragement after reading how distressed she was.

Oh. Oops. They couldn’t encourage her. She was fired shortly after that rant.

Here’s an example of a proud daughter bragging about her father. That’s really sweet, isn’t it? Most teenagers complain about their parents, but this Florida girl took to Facebook right away to express her joy about an $80,000 age-discrimination lawsuit her father won from a former employer, a posh private school. She had plenty of classmates at the school who saw the post. She wrote,

 Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.

It’s so nice that a young girl wants to travel in Europe for the summer…all that history and culture…and the food…

Oh. Oops. The school’s administrators and lawyers also got to see her message. The lawyers were not amused, so they invoked the confidentiality order and voided her father’s settlement.

Read more on our blog about dumb things people post.

TIPS

  • Before posting, take a moment to rethink what you just entered in the newsfeed. Re-read what you wrote before hitting the publish button.
  • Take advantage of Facebook Groups or Google+ circles to make sure your messages get to the right people.
  1. 2. Let it all hang out: Ignore your privacy settings. In the excitement of daily life, it’s easy to forget how many people can read your posts. From co-workers to your mom, even strangers; virtually anyone can read your angry rant, your drunken Tweet, or see Selfies of your trip to the mall when you were supposed to be home sick in bed. When I read about this guy, I knew you’d like it too – it’s so cute.

Read more…

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July 31st, 2014

Security basics: Internet scams and your identity

If you’re afraid “to do something wrong” when you sit behind your computer, this new series is for you.

AVAST has expertise in developing security products and we want to bring you a complete series about internet danger, with good practices to avoid scams, loss of money, and identity theft. You’re just about to join a tutorial that will help you avoid such threats in the virtual world.

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First, being afraid to do something wrong is healthy because it will slow you down, which can be a good thing since most mistakes are made due to rushing through something. Computers, smartphones and tablets are advanced tech devices. Those of us who did not have the opportunity to learn and gather knowledge and experience on using these devices when we were young, can be a little shy with them. Searching for information about how to do something with your device is not always easy because people tend to use complicated language. Making it simple and easy-to-understand is a task that we assume with pleasure.

The Basics

The internet is a space for sharing and dialog. However, alongside this encouraging environment you will face some areas where you need to exercise caution: Inappropriate content for children like adult sites; sites which promote hateful content such as racism and intolerance; and cybercriminals who use different methods to steal your personal, banking, and credit card data.

You may be tempted to think that no one will be interested in your computer, or that your computer cannot be found in the internet jungle. That would be a mistake.

Cybercriminals hide in the jungle and misuse your computer as a base to attack others, and spread viruses (malware) or spam. Think of it this way – the banking systems and e-commerce sites have, in general, a much bigger and more sophisticated security arsenal than your own computer (smartphone or tablet), and yours is the weakest point in this chain.

So let’s start from the same place.

Here’s The Rule: All safety measures you take in real life should be applied when you use the internet: Visit only trustworthy sites and stores, do not share your personal data with anyone, lock the doors, and put an alarm. AVAST believes security implies prevention: Be prepared before something bad surprises you.

Your identity is up for grabs

Your personal data or your credentials for a particular site (username and password) are quite valuable to cybercrooks. With this data, scammers act on your behalf; sending emails (like the phishing ones we’ve written about lately), shopping with your credit card, and doing things that can cause harm to you, not only financially but also for your reputation. They could share false information about you, photos and personal data. This could led to problems when, for instance, you are looking for a new job, but also in your personal and family life.

Create strong passwords to protect your online accountsTaking care of your passwords is essential. Use different passwords for each service or internet site. You should create the so-called strong passwords: CAPS letters, symbols, and numbers. AVAST offers an automated solution for your passwords called avast! EasyPass. This way, using different and secure passwords, cybercriminals can’t easy guess your credentials, enter in sites, or shop in your behalf.

Do not answer unsolicited emails or sales promotions that promise you a financial return after you make a small payment. Never help or join into the financial operations of a third party, close to you or not. Do not trust in NGOs that ask for donations, rather look for the official sites to contribute. Never giveaway your banking data for “personal credit and rewards” announcements, for example, bogus companies offering jobs that ask for a preliminary payment. Scams that prey on your emotions are prevalent. Dating scams in-the-wild ask for money to make a trip to meet your  love interest personally. In fact, after you pay, you’ll never see your love again. Beware of these types of scenarios.

How can we avoid these scams? Generally, they ask for a quick and secret decision and, often they have spelling and grammar errors because many still originate from foreign locales and rely on online translation software to spread the scams all over the world.

Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news, fun and contest information, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. Business owners – check out our business products.

February 27th, 2014

Sex, lies and videotapes aka Celebrity scams

Famous people – movie stars, athletes, politicians -  are the favorite subject matter of scammers. Using modern technologies and communications channels, scammers and social engineers come up with sophisticated methods to trick people and grab their attention. Social channels offer a perfect environment to create buzz, grab users’ interest with shocking content, and eventually make people share the scams themselves! Behind different types of scams stands different motivations; collecting likes (likes farms), spreading malware, or installing malicious applications that will steal your credentials. Whatever  those motivations, the intentions of scammers ain’t for your benefit!

We monitor social media to pick up those dangerous scams, warn our community, and report it to our virus lab. There are plenty of users who still become victims of scammers. We are convinced that it is more efficient to avoid problems, than to fix them.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure ~ Benjamin Franklin

Let’s take a look at a few types of scams and patterns that will help us to recognize them ahead. STOP – THINK – AND DON’T CLICK (YET)

Celebrity_sex_scam“Sex tape” scam 

Celebrities are in the constant spotlight, followed not only by the paparazzi and tabloid magazines, but fans as well, observing every step they take. The more unusual and shocking the story is, the better it sells online. Is there any better way to attract humans’ attention than with sex? If you know of some, please let us know! :) Meanwhile, let’s learn how those scams work and mainly -  how to recognize them!

Red flags:

  • Rouge visuals, shocking copy, and very strong call to actions. If the status contains any of following: OMGYou must watch itLook what she/he has done! NEVER click on this link!
  • Message leads to a shortened URL, so you can not recognize the link that doesn’t lead to any well- known source (celebrity fan pages or blogs, entertainment websites)
  • The hosting server is unknown source

Would you click on the video saying “OMG I can’t believe Rihanna did it with a…” Read more…

November 13th, 2013

AVAST donates to Typhoon Haiyan recovery efforts

foundationThe Foundation arm of AVAST Software announced today that it will make a donation of 500,000 CZK (approximately $25,000) to support relief and recovery efforts in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan.

“The greatest needs are for water, food and hygiene kits, and this will be coordinated through our main partner, People in Need, the biggest humanitarian organization in Central/Eastern Europe,” said Martina Břeňová, spokesperson for the AVAST Foundation.

“I speak for the founders, management, and employees of AVAST, when I say that our hearts go out to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines,” said Vojtěch Nekvapil, AVAST’s Partner Sales and Support Manager. “Our highest priority is to make sure that our associates and their families are safe and have what they need.”

How to avoid scammers taking advantage of Typhoon Haiyan

Whenever a catastrophe hits, people seek ways they can help. Cybercrooks quickly throw up fake websites or use similar sounding names to trick donors, and scam victims or even the real charity. Typhoon Haiyan already wrecked havoc on residents of the Philippines; don’t let making a donation wreck havoc on your bank account or identity

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and other organizations caution people to be selective in choosing charities. Here are a few tips from the FTC:

  • Donate to charities you trust, those with a “proven track record” of delivering aid to those in need.
  • Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events. Check out the charity with the BBB’s Wise Giving AllianceCharity NavigatorCharity Watch, or GuideStar.
  • Don’t give out personal or financial information — including your credit card or bank account number — unless you know the charity is reputable.
  •  Never send cash: You can’t be sure the organization will receive your donation, and you won’t have a record for tax purposes.

Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news, fun and contest information, please follow us on FacebookTwitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.

October 30th, 2013

Halloween tricks move online

HalloweenBack in the good ol’ days of Halloween, you only had to worry about your house getting egged or your big brother stealing the good candy. Halloween tricks have moved online, and along with any significant event or holiday, this spooky celebration marks an increase in malware. Cyber ghouls pull out their bag of tricks – rogue apps, scams, and email attachments, to name a few classics – all to get unsuspecting people to click on a link in order to steal credentials.

Here are a few tricks to be aware of:

Bad video links and rogue apps

In the weeks before Halloween, searches for holiday-related items like costumes and pumpkin carving increase. This example of a search for “Halloween costume make your own” came from Glen Newton of Wired’s Innovation Insights. He wrote,

The website that came up at the top of the list has a link to a video that promises to show you how to make one for under $15 in materials, requiring only basic sewing skills – just what you were looking for. You click, and there it is, but the video doesn’t play. Oh, wait, there’s a note at the bottom of the player that says, “If this video doesn’t start playing, click here to download the latest flash player.” You click.

You can guess what happens next. No, someone in a Ghostface is not looking in your window. Rather, when you click to download, a warning pops up that your PC is infected with multiple instances of malware. But don’t you already have virus protection? You immediately assume that it’s not working, plus you remember that you haven’t backed up your files in months (cue the Psycho music). Panic ensues.

The scan window…show(s) you third-party software that can remove the malware… Fortunately, it’s not a budget breaker: $39.95 for a year’s license. The web page includes graphics that show several certifications with which you’re unfamiliar, so you figure it must be safe.

Instead of finding out how to make a costume, you end up selling your soul to the devil. Well, not quite that bad – but you give personal information and your credit card number to buy a malware removal program. After the purchase is made, you still can’t access the video. Meanwhile, the personal information and credit card data you gave away is being sold to the highest bidder on underground crime webs, and your real antivirus has been disabled and replaced by malware that the crooks can use to control your computer. Talk about a Nightmare on Elm Street…

Read the whole article from Wired.

AVAST Tip: Only visit websites that are established and reputable, and keep your antivirus software updated. (And remember, vampires can only enter your house if you invite them!)

 

Recycled scams

voodoo dollSome old-fashioned tricks that have made the jump from darkened parlors to cyberspace are virtual voodoo dolls, fortune-telling, psychic readings, and spell casting. There are good and respectable “intuitive consultants” (as some psychics prefer to be called) that are able to help others. For every good one, there are a plenty who con people to only get their money.

A typical M.O. of scammers is to use multiple sites with similar content. So if you see a site for Voodoo Queen Mumbo Gumbo who is offering a buy one spell, get one free, and you see 12 others with similar content, then forget about it.

“It’s a new twist on an old idea,” said Nicholas Little, legal director of the Center for Inquiry to the Toronto Sun yesterday. “It’s easy to hide your identity on the Internet, so people are willing to try scams online that they would never be willing to try in person.”

AVAST Tip: Never pay for a service or product that you are not sure of or you do not want. (A money-back guarantee for spell casting is not a good sign!)

Read more…

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April 4th, 2013

Phishing scam: University of Texas (San Antonio) email expiration

How’s this for a good phishing scam? Everything seems legit:

1. From email is “customerservice@utsa.edu”

2. No misspelled words and has decent grammar (however, some punctuation inconsistency)

3. Copyright (c) symbol next to the university name

4. Gmail did not filter it as spam, but left it in my normal inbox

 

University of Texas (San Antonio) email phishing scam

 

Yes, if I had ever attended that particular university, I might have fallen for it. ;)

PLEASE NOTE: University of Texas has nothing to do with this email.

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August 29th, 2012

Phishers target consumers and financial services

A single phishing campaign can send millions of emails to consumers in an attempt to part them from their money.  Hundreds of phishing websites are established online every day, designed to lure consumers to give up personal information. And it appears that there is no slow-down among the hardworking cybercrooks because the number of phishing attacks targeted at consumers remain high, reports The Anti-Phishing Working Group, an organization that tracks and reports phishing occurrences.

Social engineering and technical trickery are the cornerstones of phishing whose goal is to steal consumers’ personal identity data and financial account credentials.  Spoofed emails  that appear to be from  legitimate businesses,  lead  consumers  to fake websites, which can look the same as the real thing, tricking them into divulging data such as usernames  and  passwords.  Cybercrooks can also use technical tricks to install specially designed malware onto PCs in order to capture online account user names and passwords and misdirect consumers to counterfeit websites.

Among industries, financial services are targeted by phishers more than any other. Cybercrooks have a new variation that cons financial advisers into wiring cash out of their clients’ online investment accounts. USA Today reports that, “Cybercriminals have discovered that investors now routinely rely on email to authorize personal advisers to execute financial transactions. Search engines and social networks have made finding and profiling potential victims, and their advisers, easy.”

How can you protect yourself against phishing?

The avast! Mail Shield scans all incoming and outgoing email and attachments for malware. For the highest level of home protection, avast! Internet Security has a comprehensive spam and phishing filter, which analyses all incoming email based on various criteria to determine whether it is legitimate.

Steps you can take:

  • Have good habits – do not respond to the links in an unsolicited email or on Facebook
  • Protect your passwords and don’t reveal them to anyone
  • Do not give sensitive information to anyone—on the phone, in person or through email
  • Look at the website’s URL (web address.) In many phishing cases, the web address may look legitimate but the URL may be misspelled or the domain is different (.com when it should be .gov)
  • Keep your browser up-to-date and apply security patches
  • Do not open attachments from unsolicited email

If you believe you have compromised sensitive information about your accounts, contact your financial institution, credit card company, or appropriate authorities.

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February 16th, 2012

Standard hacker tactics after Whitney Houston’s death

There seems to be a playbook of standard hacker tactics after a celebrity death or an event of worldwide interest like earthquakes or tsunamis.  Hours after the announcement of pop diva Whitney Houston’s death, scammers had already devised schemes to prey on fans seeking information – appearing to recycle those used after the deaths of Michael Jackson and Steve Jobs.

A Facebook message, claiming to link to a video of Whitney Houston’s autopsy, takes the user to a page with an embedded YouTube video. When you try to play it, a pop-up message appears instructing the user to update their copy of Adobe’s Flash from a bogus site. The video scam has become viral. Read more…

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February 10th, 2012

Online Dating Advice for the Lovelorn

Dear Miss Deborah,
Three months ago, I started chatting with a guy I met online, and we really hit it off – we have so much in common! He looks quite handsome in the photos he sent. He sent me flowers and a sweet teddy bear. Isn’t that romantic? We haven’t met yet, because he is actually supervising a construction project in an African country, but we will when he gets back. I can’t wait.

Yesterday, I got a message from him explaining how he is unable to cash his checks and asking if I could wire him money so he could come home. I’m starting to like him more each day, and I want to meet him. What should I do? Risk rejection or send him the money?

Sincerely,
Single and looking again

Read more…

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