Authorities have cracked down on a website that claimed to give out coronavirus vaccine kits – but that was actually stealing victims’ payment card data and personal information.
Authorities have cracked down on a website that claimed to give out coronavirus vaccine kits – but that was actually stealing victims’ payment card data and personal information.
If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, I have no doubt that he’d revise his famous quote: ‘Nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes’ to include online holiday scams! For there is no question that online scammers and cybercriminals love the festive season! The bulk of us are time-poor, stressed, and sporting to-do lists as long as our arms – so cybercrims know it’s inevitable that some of us are going to take short cuts with our online safety and fall into their webs!
And McAfee research shows just that with over a third of Aussies having either fallen victim to or know someone who has been affected by a phishing scam in 2019. A phishing scam is when a scammer poses as a trustworthy entity (for example, a bank or government department) usually via email with the sole purpose of trying to extract sensitive information such as passwords, usernames and credit card details. And clearly, phishing is a very lucrative online trick as it was named as the worst scam of 2019!
Although phishing scams have taken out the top place for 2019, robocalling scams and shipping notification scams have also caused Aussies great pain this calendar year.
If you receive a phone call with a pre-recorded message that presents a grim scenario if you don’t take action then you’ve been robocalled! My family’s ‘favourite’ one from 2019 was the scam which delivered a pre-recorded message advising us that our phone line would be cut unless we spoke immediately to their technician. The Australian Telecommunications Ombudsman was overrun with complaints about this particular heist which backs up McAfee’s research that shows 32% of Aussies either fell victim to this scam, or knew someone who did.
Shipping notification scams have also caused Aussies grief this year with more than a 1/4 of us (26%) affected or in touch with someone who was. The meteoric rise of online shopping has meant that when many of us are notified about an impending delivery, we probably don’t stop to question its authenticity.
In Australia, 1 in 10 scam victims (11%) have lost money as a result of being targeted by a scam. And a quarter of those affected have lost more than $500! Now, that’s a sizeable chunk of cash!
But in addition to an initial monetary sting, having your personal details ‘stolen’ via a scam may come back to haunt you later down the track. According to McAfee’s Advanced Threat Research (ATR), more than 2.2 billion stolen account credentials were made available on the criminal underground in just the first 3 months of 2019!
The holiday season is particularly stressful for consumers, and cybercriminals plan accordingly. Many of us ramp up our online shopping in the lead-up to the holiday period and, as our ‘to-do’ lists get longer, some of us will inevitably let our guard down online. And cybercriminals know this too well so consequently spend a lot of effort devising cunning schemes to take advantage of our corner-cutting.
Cybercriminals put a lot of effort into devising fake accounts and sites to target consumers around key holiday shopping periods however some Aussies aren’t aware of these ploys with 21% of the Aussies interviewed not aware scams like these existed.
I highly recommend that you (and your family members) take a little time this holiday period to sure up your online safety. Here are a few simple steps that consumers can take to protect themselves and avoid getting scammed this festive period:
With phishing scams revealed to be the worst scam of the year, it is more important than ever to think before clicking on links. Instead of clicking on a link in an email, it is always best to check directly with the source to verify an offer or shipment.
With just one hack, cybercriminals can get their hands on thousands of passwords, which they can then use to try to access multiple accounts. By using a different password for each, shopping, media streaming or social media account, you can dramatically reduce this risk.
Use comprehensive security protection, like McAfee Total Protection, which can help protect devices against malware, phishing attacks and other threats. It includes McAfee WebAdvisor, which can help identify malicious websites.
A solution like McAfee Safe Connect with bank-grade encryption, private browsing services, and internet security will keep your information safe from cybercriminals – even when checking emails or online shopping on public Wi-Fi or open networks.
And finally beware bogus gift card scams! One new trend that is set to hit unsavvy consumers hard this holiday season is phoney gift cards, with McAfee’s ATR team seeing fake gift cards sold on the cybercriminal underground. Yet, despite the rise in this scam, 17 per cent of the survey respondents have never heard of bogus gift cards and over a quarter (26%) reported that they are not concerned about the threat. So, please spread the word and do your homework before buying gift cards!
Here’s to a Happy, Scam-Free Holiday Season!
The post How to Ensure You Don’t Fall Victim to a Holiday Scam this Festive Season appeared first on McAfee Blogs.
’Tis the season for giving and who better to give a giant headache to than the digital scammers working overtime to wreck our holidays? Can we spot and unravel every scam out there? Probably not. But, by taking a few minutes to get equipped to click, we can dodge common traps laid by cybercrooks and wreck their holidays before they get a chance to wreck ours.
As informed as most of us may profess to be, American consumers continue to step into cyber traps every day. In fact, according to a recent McAfee survey, in 2019, 74% of those surveyed admitted to losing more than $100 in scams and almost a third (30%) losing more than $500. The survey also revealed that 48% of Americans have been or know someone who has been a victim of robocalling in 2019, making it the most prevalent scam of the year. Email phishing (41%) and text phishing (35%) are also tricks we fell for in 2019.
Cybercrooks call those stats a very happy holiday.
We can do our part to reduce these statistics. Before we all get distracted with shopping sprees or fall into sugar comas, call a family huddle. Discuss ways to avoid the digital traps and send cybercrooks into a maze of locked doors and dead ends. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Even with the threats that exist around us, keep your sights fixed on the bigger picture. The holiday season is still merry and bright. People are still good. And, peace on earth — and in your home — is still possible this year. With a little foresight and a few cool tools, you are more than able to protect the things that matter most.
Whether it be that their shoes are too tight, their heads aren’t screwed on just right, or they’re expressing a little bit of “Bah Humbug,” cyber-grinches and cyber-scrooges everywhere view the holiday season as a perfect opportunity to exploit users. In fact, McAfee recently conducted a survey of over 1,000 adults over the age of 18 in the U.S. from October 10-20, 2019 to shed light on the types of scams they encountered this year. Let’s take a look at how criminals are attempting to steal the fun of the holiday season with various scams.
Ribbons, Wrappings, and Robocalls
The survey revealed that 48% of Americans have been a victim of or know someone who has been a victim of robocalling in 2019, making it the most prevalent scam of the year. Respondents also reported that they had been targeted with email phishing (41%) and text phishing (35%) in 2019. Another popular trend this year among these crooks? What’s old is new again. While cybercriminal activity has become increasingly sophisticated over the years, survey results showed that these less sophisticated scams of Christmas are still a popular avenue for cybercriminals to exploit.
Combined, all these scams have left quite a financial impact. 74% of respondents admitted to losing more than $100 to these scams, while 30% lost more than $500. What’s more, over 2.2 billion stolen account credentials were made available on the cybercriminal underground throughout Q1 2019 alone, posing an even greater threat to users’ data.
Between all the threats stemming from these cyber-grinches and cyber-scrooges, scams have the potential to haunt users’ digital past, present, and future. Which begs the question – what should users do? They can start by first reading McAfee’s own Christmas Carol:
Be on the Lookout for These Cyber-Grinch Tricks
While most users believe that cyber-scams become more prevalent during the holidays, a third don’t actually take any steps to change their online behavior. In fact, by cutting some corners to pave way for holiday fun, users may be putting themselves at more risk than they realize. While using devices and apps for tasks like holiday shopping, streaming TV shows, and food delivery services, users are sharing more personal information than ever before. By targeting these popular apps, cybercriminals can collect and store key data, including home addresses, credit card information, and account passwords that they can use for future attacks.
Another trend that’s set to hit unsavvy users this holiday season is phony gift cards, with McAfee’s Advanced Threat Research team discovering phony gift cards sold on the cybercriminal underground. However, the survey found that only 43% of respondents are aware of fake gift cards as a threat. What’s more, users are also failing to check shopping websites, with over one-third (37%) of respondents admitting that they don’t check an email sender or retailer’s website for authenticity. By not being mindful of these grinchy tricks, users open themselves up to many avenues of exploitation.
Securing Your Holiday Season
We must stop these Christmas scams from coming, but how? To help ensure a cyber-grinch doesn’t put a damper on your holiday season, check out the following security tips.
The post This Holiday Season, Watch Out for These Cyber-Grinch Tricks appeared first on McAfee Blogs.
The topics parents need to discuss with kids today can be tough compared to even a few years ago. The digital scams are getting more sophisticated and the social culture poses new, more inherent risks. Weekly, we have to breach very adult conversations with our kids. Significant conversations about sexting, bullying, online scams, identity fraud, hate speech, exclusion, and sextortion — all have to be covered but we have to do it in ways that matter to kids.
With 95% of teens now having access to a smartphone and 45% online ”almost constantly,” it’s clear we can’t monitor conversations, communities, and secret apps around the clock. So the task for parents is to move from a mindset of ”protect” to one of ”prepare” if we hope to get kids to take charge of their privacy and safety online.
Here are a few ideas on how to get these conversations to stick.
Make adjustments to your digital parenting approach as needed. Some things will work, and others may fall flat. The important thing is to keep conversation a priority and find a rhythm that works for your family. And don’t stress: No one has all the answers, no one is a perfect parent. We are all learning a little more each day and doing the best we can to keep our families safe online.
Be Part of Something Big
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). Become part of the effort to make sure that our online lives are as safe and secure as possible. Use the hashtags #CyberAware, #BeCyberSafe, and #NCSAM to track the conversation in real-time.
The post Want Your Kids to Care More About Online Safety? Try These 7 Tips appeared first on McAfee Blogs.
There’s something ironic about cybercriminals getting “hacked back.” BriansClub, one of the largest underground stores for buying stolen credit card data, has itself been hacked. According to researcher Brian Krebs, the data stolen from BriansClub encompasses more than 26 million credit and debit card records taken from hacked online and brick-and-mortar retailers over the past four years, including almost eight million records uploaded to the shop in 2019 alone.
Most of the records offered up for sale on BriansClub are “dumps.” Dumps are strings of ones and zeros that can be used by cybercriminals to purchase valuables like electronics, gift cards, and more once the digits have been encoded onto anything with a magnetic stripe the size of a credit card. According to Krebs on Security, between 2015 and 2019, BriansClub sold approximately 9.1 million stolen credit cards, resulting in $126 million in sales.
Back in September, Krebs was contacted by a source who shared a plain text file with what they claimed to be the full database of cards for sale through BriansClub. The database was reviewed by multiple people who confirmed that the same credit card records could also be found in a simplified form by searching the BriansClub website with a valid account.
So, what happens when a cybercriminal, or a well-intentioned hacker in this case, wants control over these credit card records? When these online fraud marketplaces sell a stolen credit card record, that record is completely removed from the inventory of items for sale. So, when BriansClub lost its 26 million card records to a benign hacker, they also lost an opportunity to make $500 per card sold.
What good comes from “hacking back” instances like this? Besides the stolen records being taken off the internet for other cybercriminals to exploit, the data stolen from BriansClub was shared with multiple sources who work closely with financial institutions. These institutions help identify and monitor or reissue cards that show up for sale in the cybercrime underground. And while “hacking back” helps cut off potential credit card fraud, what are some steps users can take to protect their information from being stolen in the first place? Follow these security tips to help protect your financial and personal data:
The post Hack-ception: Benign Hacker Rescues 26M Stolen Credit Card Records appeared first on McAfee Blogs.
An alleged fraudster built a vast web of AWS cloud accounts, becoming the platform’s biggest consumer of data resources.
Fears and phobias. We all have them. But what are your biggest ones? I absolutely detest snakes but spiders don’t worry me at all. Well, new research by McAfee shows that cybercriminals and the fear of being hacked are now the 5th greatest fear among Aussies.
With news of data breaches and hacking crusades filling our news feed on a regular basis, many of us are becoming more aware and concerned about the threats we face in our increasingly digital world. And McAfee’s latest confirms this with hackers making their way into Australia’s Top 10 Fears.
According to research conducted by McAfee, snakes are the top phobia for Aussies followed by spiders, heights and sharks. Cybercriminals and the fear of being hacked come in in 5th place beating the dentist, bees, ghosts, aeroplane travel and clowns!
Aussie Top 10 Fears and Phobias
Fears and phobias develop when we perceive that we are at risk of pain, or worse, still, death. And while almost a third of respondents nominated snakes as their number one fear, there is less than one-in-fifty thousand chance of being bitten badly enough by a snake to warrant going to hospital in Australia, according to research from the Internal Medicine Journal.
In contrast, McAfee’s analysis of more than 108 billion potential online threats between October and December 2018, identified 202 million of these threats as genuine risks. With a global population of 7.5 billion, that means there is approximately a one in 37 chance of being targeted by cybercrime. Now while this is not a life-threatening situation, these statistics show that chance of us being affected by an online threat is very real.
According to the research, 82% of Aussies believe that being hacked is a growing or high concern. And when you look at the sheer number of reported data breaches so far this year, these statistics make complete sense. Data breaches have affected Bunnings staff, Federal Parliament staff, Marriott guests, Victorian Government staff, QLD Fisheries members, Skoolbag app users and Big W customers plus many more.
Almost 1 in 5 (19%) of those interviewed said their top fear at work is doing something that will result in a data security breach, they will leak sensitive information or infect their corporate IT systems.
The fear that we are in the midst of a cyberwar is another big concern for many Aussies. Cyberwar can be explained as a computer or network-based conflict where parties try to disrupt or take ownership of the activities of other parties, often for strategic, military or cyberespionage purposes. 55% of Aussies believe that a cyberwar is happening right now but we just don’t know about it. And a fifth believe cyber warfare is the biggest threat to our nation.
Being proactive about protecting your online life is the absolute best way of reducing the chances of being hacked or being affected by a data breach. Here are my top tips on what you can now to protect yourself:
Using a password manager to create unique and complex passwords for each of your online accounts will definitely improve your online safety. If each on your online accounts has a unique password and you are involved in a breach, the hacker won’t be able to use the stolen password details to log into any of your other accounts.
Storing your financial data within your browser and being able to populate online forms quickly within seconds makes the autofill function very attractive however it is risky. Autofill will automatically fill out all forms on a page regardless of whether you can see all the boxes. You may just think you are automatically entering your email address into an online form however a savvy hacker could easily design an online form with hidden boxes designed to capture your financial information. So remove all your financial information from Autofill. I know this means you will have to manually enter information each time you purchase but your personal data will be better protected.
One of the easiest ways for a cybercriminal to compromise their victim is by using phishing emails to lure consumers into clicking links for products or services that could lead to malware, or a phoney website designed to steal personal information. If the deal seems too good to be true, or the email was not expected, always check directly with the source.
It’s important to put the right security solutions in place in order to surf the web safely. Add an extra layer of security to your browser with McAfee WebAdvisor.
I know public Wi-Fi might seem like a good idea, but if consumers are not careful, they could be unknowingly exposing personal information or credit card details to cybercriminals who are snooping on the network. If you are a regular Wi-Fi user, I recommend investing in a virtual private network or (VPN) such as McAfee’s Safe Connect which will ensure your connection is completely secure and that your data remains safe.
While it is tempting, putting our head in the sand and pretending hackers and cybercrime don’t exist puts ourselves and our families at even more risk! Facing our fears and making an action plan is the best way of reducing our worry and stress. So, please commit to being proactive about your family’s online security. Draw up a list of what you can do today to protect your tribe. And if you want to receive regular updates about additional ways you can keep your family safe online, check out my blog.
‘till next time.
Over the years, I’ve been the star of a number of sub-stellar parenting moments. More than once, I found myself reprimanding my kids for doing things that kids do — things I never stopped to teach them otherwise.
Like the time I reprimanded my son for not thanking his friend’s mother properly before we left a birthday party. He was seven when his etiquette deficit disorder surfaced. Or the time I had a meltdown because my daughter cut her hair off. She was five when she brazenly declared her scorn for the ponytail.
The problem: I assumed they knew.
Isn’t the same true when it comes to our children’s understanding of the online world? We can be quick to correct our kids when they fail to exercise the best judgment or handle a situation the way we think they should online.
But often what’s needed first is a parental pause to ask ourselves: Am I assuming they know? Have I taken the time to define and discuss the issue?
With that in mind, here are five digitally-rich terms dominating the online conversation. If possible, find a few pockets of time this week and start from the beginning — define the words, then discuss them with your kids. You may be surprised where the conversation goes.
Internet privacy is the personal privacy that every person is entitled to when they display, store, or provide information regarding themselves on the internet.
Highlight: We see and use this word often but do our kids know what it means? Your personal information has value, like money. Guard it. Lock it down. Also, respect the privacy of others. Be mindful about accidentally giving away a friend’s information, sharing photos without permission, or sharing secrets. Remember: Nothing shared online (even in a direct message or private text) is private—nothing. Smart people get hacked every day.
Ask: Did you know that when you go online, websites and apps track your activity to glean personal information? What are some ways you can control that? Do you know why people want your data?
Act: Use privacy settings on all apps, turn off cookies in search engines, review privacy policies of apps, and create bullet-proof passwords.
Digital wellbeing (also called digital wellness) is an ongoing awareness of how social media and technology impacts our emotional and physical health.
Highlight: Every choice we make online can affect our wellbeing or alter our sense of security and peace. Focusing on wellbeing includes taking preventative measures, making choices, and choosing behaviors that build help us build a healthy relationship with technology. Improving one’s digital wellbeing is an on-going process.
Ask: What do you like to do online that makes you feel good about yourself? What kinds of interactions make you feel anxious, excluded, or sad? How much time online do you think is healthy?
Act: Digital wellness begins at home. To help kids “curb the urge” to post so frequently, give them a “quality over quantity” challenge. Establish tech curfews and balance screen time to green time. Choose apps and products that include wellbeing features in their design. Consider security software that blocks inappropriate apps, filters disturbing content, and curbs screen time.
Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media in a variety of forms. It’s the ability to think critically about the messages you encounter.
Highlight: Technology has redefined media. Today, anyone can be a content creator and publisher online, which makes it difficult to discern the credibility of the information we encounter. The goal of media literacy curriculum in education is to equip kids to become critical thinkers, effective communicators, and responsible digital citizens.
Ask: Who created this content? Is it balanced or one-sided? What is the author’s motive behind it? Should I share this? How might someone else see this differently?
Act: Use online resources such as Cyberwise to explore concepts such as clickbait, bias, psychographics, cyberethics, stereotypes, fake news, critical thinking/viewing, and digital citizenship. Also, download Google’s new Be Internet Awesome media literacy curriculum.
Empathy is stepping into the shoes of another person to better understand and feel what they are going through.
Highlight: Empathy is a powerful skill in the online world. Empathy helps dissolve stereotypes, perceptions, and prejudices. According to Dr. Michelle Borba, empathetic children practice these nine habits that run contrary to today’s “selfie syndrome” culture. Empathy-building habits include moral courage, kindness, and emotional literacy. Without empathy, people can be “mean behind the screen” online. But remember: There is also a lot of people practicing empathy online who are genuine “helpers.” Be a helper.
Ask: How can you tell when someone “gets you” or understands what you are going through? How do they express that? Is it hard for you to stop and try to relate to what someone else is feeling or see a situation through their eyes? What thoughts or emotions get in your way?
Act: Practice focusing outward when you are online. Is there anyone who seems lonely, excluded, or in distress? Offer a kind word, an encouragement, and ask questions to learn more about them. (Note: Empathy is an emotion/skill kids learn over time with practice and parental modeling).
Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, shame, or target another person online.
Highlight: Not all kids understand the scope of cyberbullying, which can include spreading rumors, sending inappropriate photos, gossiping, subtweeting, and excessive messaging. Kids often mistake cyberbullying for digital drama and overlook abusive behavior. While kids are usually referenced in cyberbullying, the increase in adults involved in online shaming, unfortunately, is quickly changing that ratio.
Ask: Do you think words online can hurt someone in a way, more than words said face-to-face? Why? Have you ever experienced cyberbullying? Would you tell a parent or teacher about it? Why or why not?
Act: Be aware of changes in your child’s behavior and pay attention to his or her online communities. Encourage kids to report bullying (aimed at them or someone else). Talk about what it means to be an Upstander when bullied. If the situation is unresolvable and escalates to threats of violence, report it immediately to law enforcement.
We hope these five concepts spark some lively discussions around your dinner table this week. Depending on the age of your child, you can scale the conversation to fit. And don’t be scared off by eye rolls or sighs, parents. Press into the hard conversations and be consistent. Your voice matters in their noisy, digital world.
The post 5 Digitally-Rich Terms to Define, Discuss with Your Kids appeared first on McAfee Blogs.
Adding hashtags to a social post has become second nature. In fact, it’s so common, few of us stop to consider that as fun and useful as hashtags can be, they can also have consequences if we misuse them.
But hashtags are more than add-ons to a post, they are power tools. In fact, when we put the pound (#) sign in front of a word, we turn that word into a piece of metadata that tags the word, which allows a search engine to index and categorize the attached content so anyone can search it. Looking for advice parenting an autistic child? Then hashtags like #autism #spectrum, or #autismspeaks will connect you with endless content tagged the same way.
Hashtags have become part of our lexicon and are used by individuals, businesses, and celebrities to extend digital influence. Social movements — such as #bekind and #icebucketchallenge — also use hashtags to educate and rally people around a cause. However, the power hashtags possess also means it’s critical to use them with care. Here are several ways people are using hashtags in harmful ways.
Hashtags can put children at risk. Unfortunately, innocent hashtags commonly used by proud parents such as #BackToSchool, #DaddysGirl, or #BabyGirl can be magnets for a pedophile. According to the Child Rescue Coalition, predators troll social media looking for hashtags like #bathtimefun, #cleanbaby, and #pottytrain, to collect images of children. CRC has compiled a list of hashtags parents should avoid using.
Hashtags can compromise privacy. Connecting a hashtag to personal information such as your hometown, your child’s name, or even #HappyBirthdayToMe can give away valuable pieces of your family’s info to a cybercriminal on the hunt to steal identities.
Hashtags can be used in scams. Scammers can use popular hashtags they know people will search to execute several scams. According to NBC News, one popular scam on Instagram is scammers who use luxury brand hashtags like #Gucci or #Dior or coded hashtags such as #mirrorquality #replica and #replicashoes to sell counterfeit goods. Cybercriminals will also search hashtags such as #WaitingToAdopt to target and run scams on hopeful parents.
Hashtags can have hidden meanings. Teens use code or abbreviation hashtags to reference drugs, suicide, mental health, and eating disorders. By searching the hashtag, teens band together with others on the same topic. Some coded hashtags include: #anas (anorexics) #mias (bulimics) #sue (suicide), #cuts (self-harm), #kush and #420 (marijuana).
Hashtags can be used to cyberbully. Posting a picture on a social network and adding mean hashtags is a common way for kids to bully one another. They use hashtags such as #whatnottowear, #losr, #yousuck, #extra, #getalife, #tbh (to be honest) and #peoplewhoshouldoffthemselves on photo captions bully or harass peers. Kids also cyberbully by making up hashtags like #jackieisacow and asking others to use it too. Another hashtag is #roastme in which kids post a photo of themselves and invite others to respond with funny comments only the humor can turn mean very quickly.
When it comes to understanding the online culture, taking the time to stay informed, pausing before you post, and trusting your instincts are critical. Also, being intentional to monitor your child’s social media (including reviewing hashtags) can help you spot potential issues such as bullying, mental health problems, or drug abuse.
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