Scary cybersecurity stories to tell in the dark

Grace Macej 31 Oct 2022

Turn off the lights and read these five fearsome frights.

Greetings, kiddies! It’s your old pal the Vault Keeper, sneaking into the Avast Security News Team’s office after hours to pull together a decadent dinner of dark delicacies for you. I ran my bony fingers through the archives and found the scariest cybersecurity stories from this past year, five terrifying tales that will chill and thrill you. So step closer and sink your teeth into this special Halloween news roundup, featuring all your favorite elements of cosmic cybersecurity horror – monsters, malware, and madness. 

The lurking fear of scareware

You’re enjoying a mellow night on your laptop, maybe some trip hop playing in the background. You’re feeling good, the evening is peaceful, and you secretly feel a little superior because you know what trip hop is. Then terror strikes! An urgent alert pops up on your screen – you have a critical malware infection! Oh, no! How did this happen? Here’s the twist – it didn’t! The alert itself is the scareware. It’s trying to frighten you into paying for some unnecessary tech help that would only leave you malware-infected for real. Learn more about this malevolent monster.

The spyware in the walls

You can’t see it, you can’t hear it, and you’ll never smell it, but it’s there – spyware, a threat so prevalent that the House Intelligence Committee met over the summer to discuss it. Two Israeli spyware vendors are among the greatest known threats, NSO Group and Candiru. (Which, we can’t help but notice, rhymes with “Cthulu” – coincidence?) NSO Group is the demented genius behind the zero-click Pegasus spyware, a major player in the growing global ecosystem of mercenary spyware. Find out if there’s any hope at all to avoid this phantom menace of clandestine surveillance.

The infection out of cyberspace

You’re curious about a certain website, but you’re in a hurry. An alert informs you the site may be malicious, allowing you to proceed if you accept the risk. You go for it. Doing this just once can’t hurt, right? Wrong! You just invited malware in as though it were a vampire, and now you’re infected. This cautionary tale plays out in real life for thousands of victims every day. In these cases, the horror runs extra deep because we are the architects of our own demise, recklessly pushing ourselves forward into risk and ruin. Observe more of this insanity, if you dare. 

The stalkerware in the darkness

You might feel a bit of affection for some of your most used apps – iMessage, Google Maps, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, even your handy dandy “Find My” app that saves the day when you’ve misplaced some tech. These apps are your friends, right? What’s the worst harm they could manage? Only your utter doom! When your most trusted apps are turned against you, they become a stalker’s favorite tool. If you’re wondering how some creep always knows where you are, the stalking could be coming from inside the phone! Step into this upside down world to learn more. 

The online rental scams of madness

What if you found a great deal on an apartment, exchanged emails with the owner, entered into an agreement to buy it, prepared yourself to move, paid the very reasonable deposit… then never received the promised keys. This nightmare is real for everyone who has fallen for an online rental scam. Just try not to sit on the edge of your seat as Avast blog senior writer Emma McGowan takes you back to a time when she was younger and more naive. She happened to be looking for a bargain when a devil offered her one. Read the chilling tale for yourself!

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