4 Valentine’s Day cyberthreats you should be wary of

4 Valentine’s Day cyberthreats you should be wary of

As we gear up for Valentine's Day, it's not just flowers and chocolates that should be on everyone's minds. We should also be thinking about cybercrime. Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for opportunities to wreak havoc, and the day we celebrate love is no exception.

Why does cybercrime rise around Valentine's Day?

There are many reasons why cybercriminals launch attacks around and on Valentine’s Day:

  • Heightened online activity: From online shopping for gifts to virtual date nights, internet usage spikes during Valentine's Day.This increased traffic means more opportunities for cybercriminals to steal data and breach systems.
  • Emotional manipulation: Text and email messages appealing to the very human desire for love and connection can make people more susceptible to scams
  • Relaxed security measures: Just like on any other holiday, cybersecurity often takes a backseat during Valentine's Day. People might reuse passwords, ignore warnings, or click on suspicious links without thinking twice.

Valentine's Day cyberthreats to watch out for

Here are some of the most common Valentine’s Day cyberthreats you should look out for:

1. Phishing

In a phishing attack, cybercriminals try to trick you into divulging your personal information, such as your login credentials, credit card details, or Social Security number. They do this by sending emails or text messages that seem to be from a legitimate source, such as a logistics company, an online retailer, a credit card company, or a loved one.

Some common Valentine’s Day-themed phishing messages include:

  • Love compatibility tests: These tests may ask you to share personal information, such as your name, date of birth, and relationship status. This information can then be used to target you with other phishing attacks or scams.
  • Discount offers and other promos: You may think you're getting a great deal on Valentine's Day gifts, but clicking on such promotions may lead you to fake websites designed to steal your credit card information.
  • Fake delivery notifications: These messages may claim to be from a logistics company such as FedEx or UPS and may ask you to click on a link to track your Valentine’s gift package. The link may take you to a spoofed website that is meant to capture your personal information.

To avoid falling for phishing scams, watch out for these telltale signs:

  • Generic greetings: Phishing messages often use generic greetings such as "Dear Customer" or "Dear Valued User" instead of your name. This is because they are often sent to many people at once.
  • Misspellings and grammatical errors: These messages often contain not just misspelled words and grammatical errors but are also formatted poorly.
  • Suspicious sender addresses: The sender's email address may be slightly different from the real company's address. For example, the email address may be “orders@amaz0n.com” instead of “orders@amazon.com.”
  • Urgency and pressure: Phishing emails often compel the target to respond immediately. They may threaten to close your account, suspend your service, or take other negative actions if you don't click on a link or provide your information right away.

Read also: Common phishing scams and signs

2. Fake online stores

Around Valentine’s Day, many fake online stores prey on your desire to find the perfect Valentine's Day gift.

Watch out for these signs to avoid getting scammed:

  • Deals that seem too good to be true: If a website offers significantly lower prices than established retailers, it's likely a scam. Research average prices before making a purchase.
  • Unprofessional website design: Look for signs of a poorly designed website, such as blurry images, broken links, or typos. Legitimate businesses invest in professional websites.
  • Missing security features: Ensure the website is secure by looking for the https:// in the address bar. Also, look for trust signals such as customer reviews or payment processor logos.

3. Malware-laden eCards and greetings

Imagine receiving a beautiful Valentine’s Day eCard from a secret admirer, only to click on it and unleash digital chaos. Unfortunately, cybercriminals often exploit the emotional appeal of eCards and greetings to embed malware on unsuspecting victims’ devices.

Stay safe from these cyberthreats by looking out for the following:

  • Unfamiliar senders: Be wary of eCards from unknown senders, even if they appear to be from someone you know. If you are unsure, reach out to the supposed sender through a trusted channel to confirm.
  • Suspicious attachments: Never open attachments in unsolicited emails or those with suspicious file types such as .exe, .zip, or .scr. These can contain malware that can steal your data or damage your device.
  • Grammatical errors and poor formatting: Legitimate eCards and greetings from established companies usually have professional formatting and no glaring grammatical errors.

4. Malicious dating profiles

Fake profiles on dating apps and websites can trick you into sharing personal information or sending money or gifts.

Steer clear of fake dating profiles by watching out for the following:

  • Profiles that seem too perfect: Beware of unrealistic profiles with limited information or stock photos, especially those that are unverified or send overly flattering messages.
  • Pressure to move conversations off-platform: Cybercriminals might try to lure you to private messaging apps or websites where they have more control.
  • Requests for money or financial information: Do not give money or share financial information with someone you haven't met in person and don't trust completely.

Read this FREE eBook: Cybercrime defense game plan

By being aware of the common Valentine's Day cyberthreats and taking proactive steps to protect yourself, you can ensure a safe and happy holiday filled with genuine love, not digital heartbreak.

As your managed IT services provider, NetQuest is committed to keeping your business and personal information safe from cybercriminals. We offer comprehensive security solutions and ongoing monitoring to ensure your peace of mind. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you stay protected throughout the year, not just on Valentine's Day.

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