Scammers are getting creative using malvertising, deepfakes, and YouTube

Nyrmah J. Reina 14 May 2024

Check out our Avast Q1/2023 Threat Report to see how social engineering scams have surged a whopping 61% on mobile and 23% on desktop.

We’re never surprised to hear that cyberattackers are still at it. For this past quarter, scams have taken more than their fair share of the cyber threat pie. However, even if cybercriminals’ scammy aims remain the same, they’re updating their approach. 

These bad actors have invented ways to social engineer new and improved schemes to make us dance to their tune. They’re exploiting deepfakes, worming their way into YouTube, and using malvertising and phishing to scam.  

Understanding these trends will help us stay safe online. We’ve discussed them in depth in our Avast Q1/2024 Threat Report. We aim to equip you with the tools you need to keep your digital life secure.  

Here are the highlights: 

Social engineering scams keep escalating 

The past quarter has seen a notable rise in social engineering scams, with a staggering 90% of all mobile and 87% of desktop threats falling into this category. These scams are designed to trick users into giving away their credentials, personal information, and credit card information to steal your money.   

Scammers are becoming more sophisticated, exploiting classic techniques—such as phishing—and adding their twist. One of the trends we’ve noted is scammers sending fraudulent push notifications to persuade users to hand out confidential information.  

These tactics are designed to take advantage of our sense of trust and urgency, tricking victims into making security mistakes. 

YouTube, the new battlefield 

YouTube, with its 2.5 billion users, has become a major target for cybercriminals. This platform's combination of automated advertising systems and user-generated content serves as fertile ground for malicious activities. 

The rise of deepfake videos is particularly concerning, as they can be used to spread misinformation. Adding to the risks, YouTube is full of fake comments, dangerous links, and phishing and scamming landing pages.  

When an online space as vast as YouTube sees an uptick in threats, it can only highlight the importance of scrutinizing online content, no matter how reputable the source seems. 

The malvertising threat 

Malvertising, or malicious advertising, uses legitimate ad networks to deliver malware directly to unsuspecting users. This method is stealthy, using trusted websites to distribute harmful content. 

Platforms like YouTube have been exploited for malvertising, compounding the risk of encountering scams and malware. Ad blockers and security software may keep you safe from an accidental click.  

Fake love everywhere 

Dating scams continue to show a significant increase. Bad actors create fake profiles and develop seemingly genuine relationships, only to defraud their victims. 

This effort is heavily supported by advertising campaigns on adult content sites. The user gets bombarded with pop-ups or new window redirects, often taking them to dating scam sites. 

One step ahead of ransomware 

Ransomware continues to make its mark across the globe. Despite efforts by law enforcement, the attackers remain active—constantly evolving their methods to sidestep defenses. 

Avast has been proactive in combating these threats, developing decryption tools that help victims recover their data without paying a ransom. 

Pointing out the threats and trends 

The cyber threat landscape is dynamic and ever evolving, but so are we. We’ll keep uncovering the schemes of cybercriminals and creating solutions to maintain your digital security.  

Remember, vigilance is your greatest ally in the ongoing battle against online threats. Staying informed and preparing is key to protecting yourself from these digital dangers. 

By understanding and addressing cyber threats—as laid out in our Avast Q1/2024 Threat Report—we can all contribute to a safer online environment for ourselves and others. Stay safe! 

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