Panda Security’s anti-malware laboratory, PandaLabs published its annual security tips for consumers to stay safe and prevent falling victim to computer fraud this winter.
During the winter season, with more spare time, people, especially children, use their computers and connect to the Internet more frequently, which increases the risk of falling victim to some kind of malicious code.
One of the latest new forms of scams involves sending fake flight confirmation emails. The potential victim receives a fake confirmation for some ‘recently purchased tickets’ with instructions to open an attachment in order to view the ticket. The file, however, is a Trojan of the Sinowal family designed to steal users’ confidential information.
“In the winter, lots of people book flights online to get to their holiday destinations,” said Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs. “Cyber-crooks are taking advantage of this situation to send a new wave of fake emails aimed at tricking users into opening the attachments and infecting their computers.”
Security Tips for the Winter Season
PandaLabs is continually analysing the latest Internet trends, and with this in mind, offers the following advice to help safeguard users’ security this season:
- Use caution with social networking sites: Unfortunately, people give out too much information on social networking sites, to the point that criminals sometimes know when someone is out on a holiday. Don’t share this private information on social networks and check your privacy settings carefully.
- Parental Control: Children spend more time in front of computers while on holiday. Installing a good parental control program on the computer will help minimize children’s vulnerability on the Internet.
- If you can avoid it, never use a shared computer: Many people prefer to leave their computers at home while on holiday, and use public PCs in Internet cafés or hotels to access their social network accounts or perform different types of transactions. If that’s your case, prevent identity theft by making sure your account doesn’t automatically save your password and user ID. Also, make sure the computer is malware-free. If you suspect the computer’s security has been compromised by a virus, leave it and use another. Take care when connecting an external device to the computer, as it may become infected without your knowledge.
- Take care with email: Email is one of the main virus entry points, so pay special attention to it. Do not open messages from unknown senders or click on dubious links.
- Beware of public Wi-Fi networks, as you could be hooking up to a network set up by hackers to steal any information that you share across the Internet. When you connect to email, social networking sites or online stores, make sure you are using a secure connection (https), so that traffic is encrypted and no one else can access the information.
- Keep your computer up-to-date: Malware seeks to exploit existing security holes in systems to infect them. Make sure all necessary security patches and updates are properly installed.
- Protect your computer: Make sure you have reliable, up-to-date protection installed on your computer. There are many free, reliable solutions on the market, like Panda Cloud Antivirus, available for download at www.cloudantivirus.com.
“Follow our tips and enjoy your winter vacation with peace of mind. Just as you lock all doors and windows before going on vacation, you should also take great care to protect your digital world,” added Corrons.