You’ve probably heard the term Malware, but do you really know what it is and how it gets onto your devices?
Malware refers to malicious software that is unwittingly downloaded on your computer or other devices. Once downloaded, you will more-than-likely become a victim of identity theft.
Malware Infections Happen in Several Ways:
Links or Attachments in Emails & Text Messages: You may open an attachment or click on a link in a phishing email or text message. Fraudsters will include links with an urgent message to entice or require you to click on them. In other words, the message is crafted to convince you that there is a need for you to take action or suffer the consequences of your inaction.
Fake Websites: Scammers often create authentic-looking, but fake websites, to trick you into entering your personal information. You may think you’re purchasing merchandise at a great price, or applying for a job, or perhaps you clicked on an article that caught your interest. Oftentimes, you just landed on a fake website because you typed the website address incorrectly by misspelling it or clicked on the wrong website during an internet search.
E-cards: These electronic cards are a fun and inexpensive way to celebrate a special occasion or holiday. But e-cards can be dangerous if they do not originate from a well-known e-card website. If someone sends one of these to you and it originated from a fake website, you may download Malware instead of an e-card.
Scammers: The “Tech Support Scam” is a good example of how it’s done. An imposter, claiming to be from Microsoft, contacts you. They manage to convince you that your computer is infected with a virus. Next they ask you to give them control of your device, so as to assist you with getting rid of the virus. Alternatively, the imposter may convince you to download a program from their fake website to help erase the virus. Just realize that whichever of these options you choose, you will instead, be actually infecting your computer with Malware.
Once Malware is installed – you have opened yourself up to identity theft.
The malicious program will allow a criminal to have access to all the files on your computer. If you have any files that have personal information, such as copies of your credit report, tax return, bank or financial statements, the criminal will then be able to view all of these files.
Additionally, all the email addresses of those in your contact list will be readily available to exploit. The criminal will use the Malware program to send SPAM emails to everyone in your contact list – which will include tainted malicious links or attachments. Recipients of these SPAM emails, will think it is safe to open them, because the email came from you. As a result, everyone in your contact list can easily be infected with the same Malware.
Worst of all, the Malware program gives the criminal the ability to log (read) your keystrokes. This keystroke-logging program allows them to capture the pins, passwords, credit card or other personal information whenever you type them, via your keypad.
Moral of the story:
- NEVER click on links or open attachments in email or text messages.
- Be wary of emails containing links or attachments even IF they appear to come from someone you know.
- Type all website addresses very carefully. Take notice how easy it is to misspell a web address or add or miss a letter. For example: ammazon.com or amzon.com or amazon.cm
- Be careful what you click on when browsing the internet, including Ads, surveys or discount coupons – even on legitimate websites.
- Don’t open e-cards unless you’re sure it’s legitimate. Do not open it if the sender is unknown to you.
- Never give control of your computer to anyone you don’t know or trust.