Holiday Phishers Use Social Media

Every social media website in existence depends on advertising for its survival, to some extent. Criminals exploit this by mimicking these familiar platforms when sending millions of phishing emails designed to entice users into clicking malicious links or visiting spoofed websites that resemble legitimate social media. They also create pages within popular social media that are infected with malware, or malicious links designed to infect the PCs of anyone who clicks.

McAfee has exposed numerous Christmas-related scams. To avoid being snared in a holiday phisher’s net, beware of:

  • Promotional scams and contests: Scammers know that contests and free offers make attractive lures, and have sprinkled Facebook with phony promotions aimed at gathering personal information.
  • Holiday phishing scams: Since people tend to be busy and distracted during the holiday season, phishers incorporate holiday themes into their emails and social media messages, hoping to trick recipients into revealing personal details.
  • Coupon scams: When accepting an offer for an online coupon code, you may be asked to provide personal information, including credit card details, passwords, and other financial data.
  • “It Gift” scams: When a particular gift is hot, sellers tend to mark up the price. Scammers also like to advertise popular gifts on rogue websites and social networks, despite not actually having these items to sell.


Awareness is the key. If you can see a potential scam coming and behave proactively, you won’t get hooked.

Robert Siciliano is a personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto, and he is running the Boston Marathon in April 2012 to support Miles for Miracles for Children’s Hospital Boston.

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