You’re innocently surfing the web when click on a link that leads you to an unfamiliar website, exposing yourself to hackers, malware and clickjacking. It’s more common than you think. InfoSecurity Magazine reports that 70 percent of the most frequently visited websites possess no security countermeasures against clickjacking attempts, one of the most popular ways hackers attempt to commit fraud, theft and extortion. Here are several common scams, and how you can protect yourself from them.
As more and more users move their everyday web use to mobile devices, scammers and hackers have followed them. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently released a memo revealing less than 1 percent of all malware directed at mobile devices targets the iOS, whereas a staggering 79 percent targets Android systems.
Mobile malware predominantly comes in the form of fraudulent apps, so the best defense against them is good impulse control. No matter how interesting or useful a free app seems, don’t download it on a whim just because it’s free or think of it as legitimate because it’s in iTunes or Google Play. Research is the best defense against hijacking apps.
Remote computer access is when you allow someone at a distant location to control your computer, usually an IT professional. However, a new brand of scammer is utilizing this technology to take control of your computer for illicit or illegal purposes. Scammers contact you in a variety of ways: Email, SMS texts and even cold calling are popular ways for these scam artists to contact potential victims. These criminals inform you that your computer has a virus and offer to help fix the problem, sometimes even posing as employees of companies such as Microsoft. They walk you through the process of installing their malware, which is disguised as some sort of bug fix. Remote Control malware can steal your information, direct you to fraudulent websites or ransom back control of your computer at outrageous sums of money.
There are few ways to protect yourself from these scammers. A service such as LifeLock protects against credit card fraud and identity theft, and insures if you are hacked or scammed, that you are adequately protected. Never trust unsolicited contact from someone claiming to be with a well-known tech company. Legitimate companies never call offering help for technical issues — it’s expected that you will contact them if there is a problem with their product.
Ransomeware is a frightening offshoot of remote access scamming that uses blackmail and extortion to defraud it’s victims. Using viruses and malware (downloaded or installed through compromised sites or malicious ads) to take control of your computer, Ransomware locks your screen and demands money. Some criminals simply won’t unlock your screen till you pay, whereas others claim to be from federal authorities, additionally claiming that illegal material has been found on your PC and demanding a fine be paid to unlock. The actual FBI has estimated more than $150 million are stolen every year through ransomware ruses. The best defense is to keep antivirus software updated and avoid downloading music or video illegally in the first place — many scammers frequently attack these sites looking for targets.