Candy Hearts, Love Notes, and Cyber Scams?!

Valentine’s Day evokes images of red and pink hearts mixed with chocolates, flowers, romance, and… CYBER-CRIME?!  That’s right, cyber-criminals capitalize on the lovers (and the singles) on Valentine’s Day! 

Don’t get left broken-hearted or with an empty wallet! Follow these best practices to avoid getting struck by a cyber-criminal’s arrow!

  • Always keep your devices up-to-date.
    • Operating systems, applications, web browsers, and anti-virus software all offer periodic updates containing vital security patches.  Install security patches immediately to ensure you are protected from existing vulnerabilities. 
  • Do not open attachments provided in an email or on social media sites from unknown sources.
    • Attachments can contain viruses which allow cyber-attackers to gain control of your computer system.  Be extra cautious of Valentine Day’s greeting cards, romantic videos, free offers, et cetera.
  • Do not click on links provided in an email. 
    • Fraudulent websites can be used to harvest your personal information and credit card details. You should always type a website into your browser directly as opposed to clicking on a link in an email.  Use a search engine to look up the company if you are unsure of the exact destination site. 
  • Be suspicious if presented with the requirement to download additional content to view/or complete a transaction. 
    • Even if a consumer website seems legitimate malicious malware could be hidden within downloadable content. 
  • Do not make purchases on shared or public computers or over unsecure Wi-Fi connections.
    • Never access, transmit, or receive sensitive information over an unsecure Wi-Fi network as your data could easily be intercepted by a cyber-attacker inconspicuously sitting at the table next to you!
  • Only buy from well-known, trusted websites with secure checkout features.
    • Purchase from sites that use SSL encryption (example:  https://<website>) when possible.
  • Single and trying to mingle?  Use caution while online dating.
    • Cyber-attackers use information shared on social media/online dating sites to target and exploit certain individuals.  They will create fake profiles designed to appear like they share common interests and hobbies to lure you in.  Be leery of your new online friend…if it seems too good to be true, it probably is (especially if they ask to borrow money)!

Do you #LUVURCOMPUTER?  Take our quiz to test your knowledge on safe computing practices! 

For more great tips, security news and all the latest alerts, visit http://makeitsafe.missouri.edu/.

Last updated: February 06, 2017