GFI Software security researchers issued a warning today regarding an expected increase in phishing attacks in relation to the upcoming Labor Day holiday. GFI Labs, the dedicated malware research center of GFI Software, warns that consumers are traditionally at high risk for targeted phishing attacks due to the preponderance of online retail sales events over the holiday weekend.
Amidst the flurry of emails promoting holiday sales are fraudulent messages that include bogus links to sites that download malicious software or phishing sites soliciting personal information. While research from companies like IBM have suggested that phishing attacks were on the decline last year, GFI Labs warns that customers should not be lulled into a false sense of security. According to phishing tracker Phishtank.com, there are over 2,900 active phishing web sites currently verified on the internet. Furthermore, the popularity of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter has made them attractive platforms for holiday-themed attacks.
According to GFI Software, one of the world’s leading providers of security software, consumers can reduce their risk of infection by following three simple rules:
1. Ensure that your computer is protected against the newest malware threats by installing a combined antivirus and antispyware solution. This serves as the first point of protection against dangerous viruses and Trojans – and one without the other is no longer effective.
2. Never click on a link from an email to make a credit card purchase. The email you’ve received may look legitimate, but there’s a high probability that the link will take you to a spoofed site where your credit card information will be recorded by cyber criminals. Instead, navigate to the retailer’s Web site directly through your browser. Again, the email may look harmless, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
3. Even when visiting a trusted Web site, be vigilant about anything that looks out of the ordinary. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace have all served as points of infection recently. Do not download anything, even from a trusted site, unless you are 100% sure of its contents.
“Every Labor Day, we see a wave of phishing attacks taking advantage of consumers’ expectations of increased retail email promotions connected with the holiday,” said Tom Kelchner, research center manager, GFI Labs. “Cyber criminals see an opportunity to slip by unnoticed among the legitimate promotions. Along with making sure virus updates and security software patches are current, consumers need to stay vigilant and use common sense in order to avoid any unnecessary headaches that these fraudulent emails look to deliver over the long weekend.”