Online Scam 2020 Updates: Phishing, Scareware, and Man-in-the-middle Attacks

Nobody doubts that 2020 is being a turbulent year. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of people have had to stay at home, by their own confinement or even designated by their companies to work from home. Other companies have not been so lucky and had to close, putting their employees out of work in absolute need.

This volatile climate has led to an upsurge in telematics crimes and online scams. This new rise in crime affects both companies and individuals. Well, hackers only look for one thing when they try to scam you; money. Either by accessing your bank details or stealing your company’s credentials, they obtain information to sell it to the highest bidder.

These are some of the most used methods by internet criminals.

Phishing

It is ridiculously simple and amazingly effective. Cybercriminals send you a message posing themselves as a legal organization that needs your data or even a store offering an irrefutable promotion.

The analogy of Phishing with Fishing is quite apparent since we have the scammers acting as fishermen, throwing their baits (the messages) into the sea (internet) to find valuable information. It doesn’t have much mystery. Once the victim is deceived, their personal information is stolen to continue snooping the trail that their data offers; credit cards, bank accounts, or even install other viruses, turning the victim’s device into yet another hacker tool.

Scareware

The famous “Scare Software” is scam loaded with social engineering. It plays with the mind of the victim, showing a particular alert message making us believe that we are in danger. After making the victim nervous with the alert, they proceed to offer you the solution to the problem. “Your information is in danger! Install this antivirus!”. Although it sounds suspicious that the same alert that makes you nervous offers you an antivirus to eliminate it, the victim is pushed to accept the offer as long as they return to how they were before.

Usually, it pretends to be an antivirus from a real company, with a well-assembled and reliable-looking website. It can even be available for smartphones, tablets, or computers. If we have reached this point, the hacker can play with users in many ways, for instance, by asking them for money to “use the new software” that they have downloaded. If this is done, another problem arises, with scammers now knowing our banking details.

On other occasions, more directly, criminals take advantage of the software we have downloaded to lock our computer and “hijack” it, asking for money in return. The best way to defend yourself from Scareware is to have common sense and distrust all messages, alerts that offer us solutions and, above all, not to release our data without being sure who we are giving it to.

Man-in-the-middle Attacks

Here the criminals are already taking a leap, and in addition to cheating us, they play with us.

The Man-in-the-middle attack presupposes a method with which hackers intervene in the data traffic between two users of the network. Once infiltrated, the cybercriminal proceeds to impersonate one of them, making them believe that they are communicating with someone they trust when, in fact, they are not. Here it goes about full-blown identity theft, with the scammer receiving all the information that was supposed to be for one of the members of the network. This way, they can get much data to use for their benefit, from banking information of individuals to secret credentials in large companies. Again, always be suspicious before giving valuable information.

Usually, this type of scams can be avoided with a strong password (with numbers, uppercase, lowercase, and symbols), a Vpn network (NordVpn, PureVpn, ExpressVpn, etc.), a backup (Microsoft office 365 backup and recovery), or verification in two steps (Google Authenticator). The security of our information should always be a priority on the internet, as crime is on the rise, and our data is our most precious currency. If the scammers take advantage of you,  always contact the relevant authorities; don’t negotiate with them as it ‘s too dangerous.

Tom Parillo

Tom Parillo

I am interested in all things technology, especially automation, robotics and tech that helps change how society will live in the future.
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