Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas scams - four tips to keep your personal information safe


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With the festive period approaching, many people are eagerly browsing the web to find some last minute deals on gadgets. Word of advice: if a deal is "too good to be true", it probably isn't.

Kaspersky Lab issued the following warning this week: "As we get ready for the latest round of Christmas-themed status updates, we should also prepare for a barrage of scams on social networks in the coming weeks too".

In the lead to Christmas, more and more gullible Facebook users are becoming targets and victims of scammers. There are hundreds of pages offering free gadgets such as PlayStation 4s, and insanely good deals on new Apple products, in exchange for your personal information.

Despite the fact that the majority of these scam posts rarely look legitimate, many people are falling for them. The below give-away received 646 entries. 



Kaspersky’s four tips to keep your social profile and personal data safe:
  • Don’t give away too much. Sharing is caring, especially at Christmas, but it doesn’t mean you have to share your personal information. Try keeping it safe by not sharing too much. If you lose control of your social media account to a hacker, it could mean more than just having your privacy infringed upon. They can also use your information to potentially breach other accounts, such as online banking services or e-commerce accounts, like Amazon.
  • Don’t click on untrusted links. Scammers use various techniques to get people to give away their Facebook login details. Clicking on an email link entitled "Facebook X-mas Specials", for example, could lead to a fake Facebook portal which invites users to enter their credentials. Since the interface seems identical to the real entry page, users don’t realise what’s happening until it’s too late. Once the victims have entered their details, the hacker has their passwords. You should, therefore, never click links that don’t come from trusted sources. But even if a link has been posted from a friend, still watch out - they may have been hacked.
  • Use two-factor authentication. Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter are becoming more and more security-conscious. They both have introduced two-factor authentication, which means the user can give another credential, such as a unique number sent to them via text or an application, when logging in. So even if someone gets hold of your details, they won’t be able to login as they won’t have that extra credential.
  • Get the right security. Different types of malware are circulating the web trying to steal social media passwords, such as the innocent-sounding Pony virus. Others, like Kelihos, are spread across Facebook and attempt to steal other personal data. Outside of taking precautionary measures, such as thinking before clicking on links, users need to invest in a decent anti-virus solution that can deal with the latest and most prevalent threats. A properly configured firewall is also essential. 

About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.