Beware of malicious e-greetings and fraudulent seasonal e-mails

A time period between December and early January is traditionally the most suitable for getting spyware or virus infection. As the holiday season draws closer, Internet users begin greeting one another, and various marketing companies as well as small merchants intensify their advertising campaigns. There is nothing wrong in such a flurry, but yearly statistics just send into a tizzy: bogus e-greeting cards, fake salutatory e-mails and instant messages, loads of Christmas and New Year spam and finally seasonal advertisements leading to insecure web sites have been used to secretly install spyware, adware, browser hijackers, trojans, numerous keyloggers and other confidential data thieves into millions of computers every year. Although there is no confirmed information on this Christmas most probable threats yet, the team is justified to believe that malicious e-greetings and fraudulent seasonal e-mail messages will be used by spyware makers and virus authors to distribute keyloggers, identity theft trojans, Internet worms and complex spyware parasites this year.

Although most e-greetings should be harmless and legitimate, a fair amount of overall cards will definitely be malicious, ditto advertisements, commercial offers, warnings from online banking resources, etc. However, the worst of it is the fact that most such bogus cards and messages install mostly identity and confidential information thieves, not mass-mailing worms or simple viruses like it was in previous years. The most recent pests will not play pranks or even try to destroy a compromised system, as their authors are interested only in victim credit card numbers, banking account details, login credentials of paid resources and other sensitive information that can be used to steal money. Today’s seasonal parasites aren’t intended to demonstrate how tough their authors are, but are designed to commit frauds and real crimes without dropping any hints on the undertakers.

Seasonal identity thefts and infections can be avoided. The following advice should help you to stay wary and safe.

1. Never open any e-greeting cards, salutatory e-mails or instant messages without checking that they were sent from someone you trust. There are plenty of rapidly spreading worms and trojans that immediately infect computers without any user interaction.
2. Do not click on any images and links included in e-mails and instant messages. These objects often point to infected files or malicious web sites, which silently install parasites upon execution or visiting.
3. Always ask people you are chatting with using an instant messenger to confirm that suspicious links and images were actually sent by them. Some trojans send out harmful messages to all the victim’s contacts without his or her knowledge and consent.
4. Do not trust advertisements and commercial offers that came to you by e-mail. They most likely were sent by spammers and frauds, as reliable companies usually do not employ such advertising methods.
5. Do not believe in seasonal offers and extra services purportedly provided by well-known companies if there is no such information published on official web sites. Phishers trick thousands of customers every day.
6. Never click on commercial banners and links on suspicious web sites, as they may lead to dangerous pages designed to secretly install parasites to your system by exploiting certain security vulnerabilities.
7. Use a regularly updated antivirus, reliable anti-spyware program and advanced firewall. These tools can detect most parasites, which arrive by e-mail and even alert you when you access phishing or potentially harmful sites.

Please explain all the dangers carried by malicious e-greeting cards and fraudulent seasonal e-mails to your family, friends and relatives. Tell them about the above advice. We hope this will help you to see the New Year in without spyware.

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