A few months ago, I uploaded a couple of blog posts about cyber-security and the threats that you are exposed to whenever you are online.
Some of the threats that we are always exposed to are:
- Scam through e-mail or Social Media and messaging platform (Instant messenger, Skype, etc...)
Read art girl's article on Email Scam capital of the world.
- Computer Virus and other Malware which includes:
- Trojan Horse
- Identity theft
- Hacking/Remote access
Are You Safe From These Online Threats?
Or better yet, "Are we safe from these threats?"
Yes, we are all exposed to these threats, including me. This means our computers and gadgets can be infected by any of the malware mentioned above. Most likely, you have received messages and e-mails from scammers
How do you protect yourself from online threats?
People would think that having a good anti-virus program is enough cyber-security. Wrong! Even if you have bought the best anti-virus software installed on your computer and other gadgets, it is not an assurance that you are safe from these online threats. An anti-virus or anti-malware program is your last line of defense against online threats.
If you may have already experienced before that even with an anti-virus installed, your computer was still infected by viruses and malware in more than one occasions.
This is a multi-part blog post.
- On the first part (this post), I will share with you some common scams and how are you exposed to these online threats.
- On the second installment, I will share with you how to detect possible scams and how to avoid being a victim.
- On the third part, I will share with you my own review on different anti-virus and anti-malware programs that will help protect you online.
How are you exposed to online threats?
Automated threats like malware and virus are the most common threats that most people are aware of and exposed. However, there are threats that are still done
Then there are hackers who target corporations and other organizations. Yet, these hackers may still target unsuspecting users' computer and turn it into a bot or part of a botnet. A user may not be aware that his/her computer is already being used by a hacker remotely. In 2018, Coindesk reports a 400% increase in crypto jacking instances.
In June (2018), 13 Nigerians were nabbed for a big-time online scam. According to the report, they promised to send the victim a package containing USD 2.5M through a diplomatic agent, on the condition that the victim would pay the "airport authority taxes" amounting to PHP 75,000.00.
Scammers normally target the elderly and the less technical-savvy Internet users. Not just Internet users actually. Some scammers also use a cell phone to initiate contact with their future victims.
According to ScamAwareness.Org, the most common scams are:
- Person-in-need scam. The scammer will call and claim to be a relative and in trouble and need financial help immediately. Most likely they have already gathered some information about the would-be victim's family tree.
- The Charity Scam - Personally, this is one of the lowest forms of scamming. The scammers would take advantage of a recent calamity like typhoon, earthquake, and other natural tragedy. They would either use the name of a legitimate organization (without authority) or make a fake organization pretending to help the victims of the tragedy.
- The Romance Scam - The scammers would befriend their victims via the social network. Then make you emotionally involved and fall in love. Then after some time, they would tell the victim that they want to move closer to the victim but does not have the financial resources to do so. Then they would ask the love-struck victim if he/she could send the money for the plane fare.
Watch this YouTube video:
Video Credit: @ABC 10 via YouTube
Internet Purchase Scam- This could go both ways. Either the scammer is a seller or a buyer. I would like to refer you to Artgirl's post as an example - Nigeria Is It Still the Email Scam Captial of the World.
"In fairness to the Nigerian members here, I don't believe that all Nigerian's are scammers. "
Other Common Scams
- Fake Loan Scam
- Mystery Shopper Scam
- The News Paper Add Scam
- The Lottery or Sweepstakes Scam
- The Vehicle Purchase Scam
- The Check or Money Order Scam
-Phishing and Pharming are another forms of online scams. Both forms trick their victims into visiting a seemingly legitimate website. The user will not notice the difference. When they enter the username and password, the hacker will capture the entered information. Usually, the user will then be redirected back to the real website.
The common target of phishing and pharming sites are online bank users. Usually, they would send a fraudulent but seemingly legitimate e-mail from the bank. Asking them to update their information, by clicking the link in the email. The link, but, will lead the user to a fake website that appears exactly the same as the real website.
For example, if the real address of the website is "https://myonlinebank.com".
The fake website would be "https://myon1inebank.com", or "https://my0nlinebank.com".
Of course, the obvious difference is easily covered by the text of the link.
For example https://myonlinebank.com.
As you can see, the link appears as myonlinebank.com but it will take you to example.com.
Or they can easily mask the address by using one of the legitimate URL shorteners like bit.ly.
Hackers are after for easy money
These are just some of the common forms of scamming and other online threats that we are exposed to. As technology continues to grow, the cybercriminals find new ways to do their devious schemes. Whatever method they use, they are all after for one thing... easy money.
What Put s You At Risks?
All these threats are just lurking around the corner. Waiting for a chance to penetrate your computer, smartphones and other gadgets. The question is, "What puts you at a greater risk?". It's what you do on the Internet.
Things you do on the Internet that increase your exposure to the online threats.
- Clicking links on e-mails from people you don't know. Scammers and hackers are spammers as well. They send these emails to almost every email address they can gather. The links on these emails could be either:
- a link to a phishing site;
- a script that will download a trojan horse or other malware;
- or a script that will open a backdoor for the hackers;
- and/or it will send the same message to everyone on your contact list.
- Clicking links on Instant Messengers.
I once received a message with a link from someone I know personally. However, I had my suspicion because of the content of the message. I did not open it. Then the next day, I received the same message, and again I received the same message several times on the succeeding message. I deleted that person from my list.
When I saw that person I asked him if he sent me any messages. He said no.
He was a victim of a click-jacking message. These messages contain scripts that when you click a link, it may show a funny pic or lead you to a website. But, on the background, it will send the same message to everyone on your contact list. Also, it may contain other malicious scripts that will do any of the actions I mentioned above.
- Responding to a friendly message to a complete stranger.
I often get this on social media sites. Most likely you have too.
Image credit: @artbytes via Bitlanders
This is how they initiate a Romance Scam. They use fake accounts and fake photos. Most likely the person behind this account is also a man.
- Downloading from torrent sites.
Torrent sites, sad to say, are nesting grounds of malicious scripts and ads. Many ads on these sites lead to pages that will download malware to your computer without your knowledge.
- Using Pirated Software.
Some pirated software comes with other malware. Some, since they were already cracked, leaves a backdoor for hackers.
Another drawback for using pirated software is, you can't update it. This means you can't update the security patches which could leave your system vulnerable for exploits.
- Porn Sites.
Porn sites is another breeding ground for malware and malicious scripts. Since to legal or morally conscious business would pay to put their ads on porn sites, hackers would put ads on these sites to lure their unsuspecting victims.
Perhaps, they would sell you some magic pills or other stuff through their sites with great discounts. But all they want is to get your credit card information.
- Forwarding Chain-letters.
It seems forwarding chain letters is harmless. Besides, it comes with a curse if you don't forward it and you will receive "a bountiful blessing" if you do.
If you take a look at these emails, they contain all the email address of the people who forwarded them it got to you.
These email addresses will surely land into the hands of the scammers and hackers. If there are thousands of unique email addresses, these means they have thousands of possible victims. Including you.
On my next post, I will share some tips on how to detect possible scams and how to avoid them. For the meantime, watch this video for more information about Internet scams.
Thanks for reading.
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