Cyber criminals affected the online businesses and individuals since the internet networks first appeared and spread all over the world.
Internet services and websites make it easy for us to pay bills, shop, make online reservations and even work. And you can do any of these actions from any place in the world. Old boundaries and human limitations were dropped, in order for us to have access to almost any information. Our lives became so much easier.
But the same thing is true for CRIME.
Our freedom to navigate and access a wide number of online locations represents in the same time a main vulnerability, because an open door always allows access in both directions.
Criminal minds can reach these days further than before, into our private lives, our homes and work offices. And there is little we can do about it.
Attack methods and tools vary from traditional attack vectors, which use malicious software and vulnerabilities present in almost all the programs and apps (even in the popular Windows operating systems), to ingenious phishing scams deployed from unexpected regions of the world, where justice can’t easily reach out to catch the eventual perpetrators.
The most common ways for you to become vulnerable to a malware attack or phishing scam take place when you:
• shop online
• check your email
• access social media networks
For this reason, we need to know what are the most popular schemes and techniques used by cyber criminals in order to obtain our private information and financial data.
We must not forget their final target is always our money and there is nothing they won’t do to accomplish their mission.
1. Phishing email scams
Phishing scams are based on communication made via email or on social networks. Cyber criminals will send you messages and try to trick you into giving them your login credentials – from your bank account, social network, work account, cloud storage or any other personal data that can prove to be valuable for them.
2. The money laundering scam
This money laundering scam – also known as the Nigerian scam – is actually one of the oldest and most popular scamming schemes. Most of us already encountered it in our own email inbox, in one form or another.
3. Greeting card scams
This is another old scam: the greeting cards that you receive in your email inbox and seem to be coming from a friend.
4. A guaranteed bank loan or credit card scam
Difficult times push people into getting trapped by “too good to be true” bank offers that guarantee you large amounts of money and have already been pre-approved by the bank.
5. Lottery scam
One more classic scam which never seems to get old. The lottery scam comes as an email message informing you that you won a huge amount of money and all you need to do to collect your fortune is to pay some small fees.
6. Hitman scam
One of the most frequent scams you can meet online is the “hitman” extortion attempt. Cyber criminals will send you an email threatening you in order to obtain money.
7. Romance scams
How many of us have already been fooled by this one? Since this one addresses our subjective self and not our rational side, we tend to drop our guard and leave aside any logical analysis.
8. Fake antivirus software
We all saw at least once this message on our screens: “You have been infected! Download antivirus X right now to protect your computer!”.
9. Facebook impersonation scam (hijacked profile scam)
Facebook is today the most popular social media network. For this reason, important companies and businesses use it to communicate with customers and promote their products.
10. Make money fast scams (Economic scams)
The following common online scam is extremely popular: cyber criminals will lure you into believing you can make easy money on the internet. They’ll promise you non-existent jobs, plans and methods of getting rich quickly and money from official government sources.
11. Travel scams
These scams usually appear in the hot summer months or before the short winter vacations, for Christmas or New Year’s Day.
Online scams developed using increasingly sophisticated means of deceiving users, especially in the rich Western countries.
According to FBI, online scams have increased over the last 10 years and the total losses doubled in the recent years, affecting both private individuals and large scale businesses. For this reason, cyber criminal activities are now subject to federal investigations and are treated as a very serious problem that affects us all.
For an extended list of common fraud schemes discovered and analyzed by FBI, you can check this article.
You may think that you can’t be fooled by these online scams, since some of them are quite hilarious, such as the one promising to send you money or the one where the scammers pretend to be FBI agents.
But some stories are so convincing for the potential victims that it is difficult to know how to deal with them.
Since some scams are so well organized and convincing, and the people behind so difficult to catch, we need to always keep our guard up. Stay informed about the latest scamming strategies.
Have you met some of the above scams while browsing or in your email inbox? What were the most convincing ones?