Valentines Day: We love Cyber Security, Do you?

Valentine’s Day, the one day of the year you can truly spend showing your admiration for a friend, lover or even your family! Every year, 62% of consumers celebrate Valentine’s day – whether that involves buying flowers, booking a table at a restaurant, sourcing a hotel room or even sending an electronic greetings card – everyone loves to get involved with Valentine’s Day!

Do you know who else loves Valentine’s Day? Cyber criminals. Research has shown that online criminal activity increases around annual holidays, especially valentine’s day, as cyber criminals attempt to trick unsuspecting users to click on links or visit websites solely designed to steal your identity, your money and your sensitive information. From phoney florists, online dating scams, false delivery phishing scams and fake electronic greetings cards, scams are plentiful on Valentine’s Day.

To ensure you stay safe online, save a little room to love Curious Frank this Valentine’s day with our top tips:

1. Avoid unexpected e-cards.

Receiving a Valentine’s Card from ‘Guess Who?’ when you were younger may have evoked a sense of wonder and curiosity, but in 2019 we need to kill that curiosity before it kills our computers! Electronic greeting cards (e-cards) can fast track malware onto your machine, infecting your PC with all sorts of bad stuff that can steal your information and send spam on your behalf.

An example of a false e-card

If you receive an e-card, always ensure that the sender is who you think it is. Don’t ever click on a suspicious link. If you receive an e-card, don’t download software to view it – go directly to a company’s website to open it. If the e-card is legitimate, a confirmation code which allows you to open it directly on the company’s website should be available.

2. Avoid ‘deals’ on Social Media.

When it’s time to celebrate an annual holiday, social media is on fire with ‘free’ stuff, the best deals and ‘too good to be true’ offers – forcing you to click on unverified links, taking you to suspicious websites and more. It is important to stay vigilant online, as scams are plentiful during this time of year. Don’t be tempted to click on pop-up ads with amazing deals on Valentine’s Day related gifts – these ads are often fake and designed to steal money and personal information.

If you do visit a website, follow Curious Frank’s advice about website links.

3. Don’t get too personal when online dating.

Valentine’s Day isn’t all about couples, single people can feel the love too! If you use online dating sites or apps, you must ensure that you don’t get too personal. Oversharing online is a huge problem these days – and it can be devastating when it comes to online dating. Always ensure that you never tell anyone where you live, work or where you are going at a specific time (e.g. when you finish work).

Additional to this, you should also avoid oversharing in regards to your location, profile photos and even private photos. In 2018, ‘The Hustle’ found that popular dating apps such as Tinder and Grindr were vulnerable to security breaches.

One vulnerability which was found was the danger of using Public Wi-Fi, as it can be simple for an attacker using the same Wi-Fi network as the user to monitor their every swipe and could allow them to control the user’s profile.

Furthermore, it was found that these apps use an unencrypted “HTTP” connection to load profile photos, making it possible for hackers to see your activity on the app.

This research also found that the popular gay dating app Grindr had similar security flaws, and even had additional security flaws, including a vulnerability that allows third parties to track app user’s location down to the foot even if the user opts out of location sharing in the user settings.

To ensure that you stay safe on dating apps:

- Avoid sharing your location

- Avoid un-encrypted apps or websites

- Choose a secure password

4. Don’t give into sextortion scams.

Being single on Valentine’s Day can actually be pretty fun, not to mention cost effective as you won’t need to spend money on dinner dates, cinema trips or flowers. However, for some, Valentine’s Day may be costly if you give in to sextortion scams.

What are sextortion scams? Typically, these scams involve attackers sending an email to a potential victim stating that they have placed malicious software on their computer and know that they have been visiting various pornographic websites. Not only that, but the attacker claims to have taken a video of them using the victims webcam. These scams warn users that if they do not pay a certain amount of money, then the attacker will send out the video and a list of websites the user has visited to the user’s contacts.

To read more about sextortion scams and how to avoid them, read our blog.

- Curious Frank

For more information and advice, please email or message us on our website!

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A division of the Scottish Business Resilience Centre

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© Curious Frank 2019