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Posted on 08/02/2017 by Charlotte

It’s a new year, a new you, and a new landscape for cyber criminals who want to steal your data. Every year the cybercrime landscape is constantly changing, with IT professionals playing a permanent game of cat and mouse with the criminals, determined to stay one step ahead. While I can’t speak for the whole of 2017, there are already some worrying new scams and strains of malware ravaging computers and networks alike in 2017. And we’re only in month 2! To help you avoid falling foul of these issues, I’ve collected some of the more devious or dangerous scams, malware and issues that are already plaguing 2017. Here’s what you need to look out for:

 

Google Chrome Malware 

This scam is one that took a little time to pick up on, purely because it is done in such a unique way. This one specifically targets Google Chrome users by breaking into poorly protected websites and inserting JavaScript that waits for Chrome users to be referred there via search engines. The script then inserts a series of unrecognised characters that break the font rendering on the website, making all of the text unreadable. Pretty annoying for the user but otherwise harmless. It’s what happens next that’s disturbing. At this point, a fake Chrome dialog box will pop up, informing the user that they need to download a file, which looks just like a font installer package. If a user downloads this ‘font’, they are actually downloading click-fraud adware.  This form of malware loads hidden ads in the background of your machine and clicks on them automatically, putting money into the pockets of the people responsible for the malware. This type of malware isn’t that harmful in itself, but the people responsible have been known to release much worse in the past through similar channels, so it’s important to be aware.

 

WhatsApp Scam

For a while, WhatsApp scams were focussed on the idea that WhatsApp would start charging users for the service unless they clicked on a link or forwarded a message to all of their contacts. But since WhatsApp came out and debunked it, proclaiming their service would always be free, the scammers have had to take a different tact. Most recently, users have reported receiving a message containing a link that promises a free £250 voucher from either Sainsbury’s or M&S. By clicking on the link the user is taken to a survey page and asked to answer a lot of personal questions that have nothing to do with the supermarket and everything to do with stealing your data. The criminals on the other side will then use or sell your data on for nefarious uses.

 

Imposter Scams

The tail end of 2016 and the start of 2017 has seen a starling rise in the number of imposter scams going around. In their most extreme form, these can be someone calling your home pretending to be kidnappers holding your child hostage until a ransom is paid. But far more common is phone calls or emails appearing to be from local authorities either threatening to cut off your power or instructing you to pay a fine for a violation. With emails, these will contain a link that, when clicked, will download some nasty malware to your machine. On the phone, the person will try to convince you that you should switch your energy (which results in over £3000 per month bills if you do) or to pay them a sum of money to keep supplying services to your home. Be vigilant and remember that councils will never email you about parking, traffic or any other form of official business, and the phone calls are easily avoidable by saying you will call them back and dialling into what you know to be the genuine number. If it is a scam you can report it, and if it is a genuine problem you can deal with is securely.

 

The phrase of the year so far appears to be ‘stay vigilant’, with many security experts crying out for better anti-virus and more though education on detecting and avoiding scams. At All Your Computers, we will do our part by keeping you informed of all the latest scams, malware and other IT issues doing the rounds, along with the best ways to avoid them. For more information on protecting your business from attack, get in touch with us today

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