Can you imagine the number of pranks people pull on April Fools’ day? Would it bother you if you were subjected to them every day? If you're always online, you're constantly exposed to various online tricks and scams, except that these ones won't be funny.
The variety of things people do on the Internet these days have given cybercriminals more avenues and ways to distribute malicious links that spread malware and steal data. Here are some of the most common tricks they use, and a guide on how to spot them.
These days, searching for viral or seasonal topics and clicking on ads without thinking twice may allow ransomware into your system. One known way this is done is through the use of malicious ads that lure users with warning messages like machines are infected or software isn't updated.
Placement of a malicious ad on a trusted site
Spam and email scams
Each year, billions of new email accounts are created worldwide. The sheer number of possible targets itself is reason enough for cybercriminals to continue developing spammed messages. Attackers also use spear-phishing emails to get inside the networks of the organizations that they're targeting.
Sample of a spammed LinkedIn message that leads to a 419 scam
Social media schemes
It's ironic that these days, the more you sit around and look at a screen, you're considered more "social". As of September 2014, 71% of online adults use Facebook, 23% use Twitter, 26% use Instagram, 28% use Pinterest, and 28% use LinkedIn. Bad guys use them as well, posing as friends, followers, or sources of celebrity information with malicious agenda.
Screenshot of an Adam Levine scam found in social networking site Facebook
Online banking fraud
Online banking fraud usually stems from clicking bogus links sent via email or visiting compromised sites that download data-stealing malware. These types of malware often show pop-up links during secure online banking sessions, asking users to log in again so the malware can steal their credentials.
Sample of a fake spam mail from Chase bank
Online shopping scams
Online shopping threats usually peak during the holiday season, though similar scams are always around all year long. The Internet is rife with fake ads that advertise trendy clothing or use big brand names to lure users. Don't fall for them.
Screenshot of a fake versus the real mobile PayPal site
Video site threats
Sometimes, popular video sites themselves become sources of malicious links and downloads. Users who are innocently watching videos and clicking on related ones may find themselves led into a maze of links that result in an infected computer.
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