Internet Scams You Should Be Aware Of
Internet scams are all too common. Know what to look for when you encounter three common types: phishing, typosquatting, and ransomware.
When most people think of fishing, they think of tossing a hook into the water, and then waiting for a fish to take the bait.
Phishing on the Internet is similar, but in this case, the crook uses a spam e-mail as their bait and waits for the victim to bite. A phisher may send out thousands of e-mails each day, and out of those, they always get some nibbles.
Despite all of the efforts to educate the public, a well-crafted e-mail can trick even the most focused individuals, especially if it appears to come from a trusted friend, family member or colleague. The term “whaling” is part of phishing, too, but in this case, it targets a high-level executive, such as a CEO, with a phishing e-mail, and these can be even more successful.
Again, if you want to protect yourself, do not click on any e-mail links, even if it seems as if they come from a trustworthy source. Instead, manually type the address into the address bar or use a bookmark.
Phishing is a business that brings in billions to its practitioners. However, unlike the depletion of the supply of fish in the ocean, there are always going to be people out there to target. This is especially the case when areas of the world such as China and India have only recently gotten Internet connections that allow them to access the web at any time and at fast speeds. The bad guys see these people as fresh meat.
Another common Internet scam is known as “typosquatting,” which is also known as URL hijacking. This practice targets users who incorrectly type a web address into their browser. For example, instead of typing Google.com, the user will type Gooogle.com (which is actually a Google site, just as an example). When the user makes this mistake, an alternative website opens, and this website is owned by a hacker.
In many cases, these websites have the same look and feel as the intended website. Some of these operations are in place to sell products or services that are also available on the intended website, but there are also spoof sites that attempt to steal personal information such as Social Security numbers or credit card information.
Some typosquatters use phishing scams to get users to their website. For instance, when AnnualCreditReport.com appeared on the scene, there were dozens of other sites with similar URLs that were also launched. In this case, e-mails were sent by scammers who were trying to make a quick buck by using a popular website already in place.
Ransomware is a third type of Internet scam, and in this case, your data is held hostage until you pay a ransom. This is a type of software that infiltrates a computer when you download an attachment that is affected, visit the wrong website or click on a certain link.
Once a computer is infected with this ransomware software, it locks down the files and prevents you from accessing them. It also gives the hacker full control of the machine. One trick that they employ is to pose as an “Anti-Adware” or “Browser Security” program that have an expired license. A Windows computer that is infected by ransomware may also show a fake Windows error alert.
This type of program is quickly becoming a rising threat in the malware world. The best way to avoid ransomware is to ensure that the computer is running the most up to date version of the operating system and that it has an updated antivirus software. It is also important to not click on the links in an email, even if it comes from someone you know. Instead, manually type in the address.