How to Avoid Holiday Scams and Malware Campaigns

How to Avoid Holiday Scams and Malware Campaigns

Riverside – The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) issued a warning in November reminding users to remain vigilant when browsing or shopping online this holiday season. 

The agency cautioned about opening e-mails and e-cards from unknown senders that may contain malicious links. Fake advertisements or shipping notifications may deliver attachments infected with malware. The agency also noted that spoofed e-mail messages and phony posts on social networking sites may request support for fraudulent causes. 

The agency provided the following recommendations to help consumers avoid seasonal campaigns that could result in security breaches, identity theft and/or financial loss: 

Users should avoid following unsolicited links or downloading attachments from unknown sources. The agency also provides a number of tips regarding how to shop safely online at www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST07-001 and details regarding how to avoid social engineering and phishing attacks at www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST04-014

If you become a victim of a holiday phishing scam or malware campaign, the agency recommends filing a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov/default.aspx, reporting the attack to local police, and filing a report with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1

Contact your financial institution immediately, close any accounts that may have been compromised and watch for any unexplainable charges to your account. Finally, immediately change any passwords which might have been revealed and do not use those passwords in the future. 

When choosing a password, longer passwords are more secure; consider using a passphrase when possible. For example, “Passwd4miemale!” would be strong because it has many characters and includes lowercase and capital letters, numbers, and special characters. You may need to try different variations of a passphrase—some applications limit the length of passwords, and some do not accept spaces. Avoid common phrases, famous quotations, and song lyrics.

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