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Online criminals seize the day during economic slowdown

Online criminals seize the day during economic slowdown

Watch out for online fraudulent activity using the global economic slowdown as bait.

Software security providers carried a common theme on their latest warnings on cybercrime: Watch out for online fraudulent activity using the global economic slowdown as bait. McAfee’s annual cyber security report highlights what it calls “the cyber credit crunch”.

Cybercriminals are cashing in on the fact people across the globe are now more often turning to the web to seek the best shopping deals, a new job and suggestions on how to better manage their finances.

“Cybercriminals are cashing in on consumer anxiety to profit from old-fashioned get rich quick scams,” says McAfee in its Virtual Criminology report.

People are tricked into signing up to websites lured by the promise of easy money, but which in fact place malicious code on their computers. Job seekers can find themselves acting as ‘money mules’ to launder cash under the guise of being employed, on an online basis, as ‘international sales representatives’ or ‘shipping managers’

“With the economic downturn driving more people to the web to seek the best deals, opportunities for cybercriminals to attack are on the rise, as people are more easily drawn in,” the report states.

Symantec echoes the theme, saying the global economic crisis will be the basis of many new attacks. These include phishing emails around the fictitious closing of a given bank, or on getting a mortgage easily or refinancing.

Expect to see an increase in scams that prey on people who have had homes foreclosed, an increase in work from home scams and an increase in spam that mimics job sites, reports Symantec in its Security Trends to Watch in 2009 report.

Sophos, meanwhile, points out another entry point by cybercriminals – malicious email attachments that prey on users’ curiosity.

In its Security Threat 2009 report, Sophos cites the August 2008 spam messages supposedly from MSNBC, a US cable television news channel, and CNN.com, which encouraged users to click on a link to a news story, but instead took them to a malicious webpage that infected Windows computers with a Trojan.

In September, an email spam contained a link to what it said was a pornographic video of US presidential candidate Barack Obama. On the day Obama won the presidential election, another malware campaign invited people to click on a link to watch the Democratic candidate’s victory speech. Visitors to the website risked having their information hijacked and sent to a server in the Ukraine.

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Tags securitycybercrime

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