Tech Support Scams Top List of Phishing Threats - Norton Labs

Imagine a pop-up or an email claiming your device is at-risk and they can help, or a phone call regarding commonly used products that may have a vulnerability that needs fixing. While some recognize the scam right away, many individuals still fall for such social engineering tactics. Even with many of the COVID-19 era scams still going around for financial assistance or sham vaccine availability, according to the latest findings from Norton Labs, tech support scams top the list of scam threats. According to the report, tech support is the top topic for phishing attempts for 13 straight weeks, from July 1st to September 30th of this year.

Often, tech support scams can appear as a pop-up. These scams are designed to deceive you by implying that your computer is facing a critical security risk. These scams often result in cybercriminals attempting to steal any personal information, install malware, or gain access to a user’s banking information. They often will masquerade as major tech companies such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft to make them appear legitimate. A major reason these scams are becoming more prevalent this year is the result of the increased reliance on computers and mobile devices.

According to the Norton Labs report, these scams are likely to continue with the approaching holiday season, and the best way to avoid falling for these scams is simple awareness. Do not call the numbers on pop-up warnings, there is no case in which a major tech company will try to call you, or have you call them about an issue with your personal device. The same applies to email, if you are worried about an email impersonating your financial institutions, call them directly rather than interacting with the suspicious email.

The report also determined some other threats, gamers are also specific targets. Norton labs identified one phishing scam that targeted individuals who play RuneScape. Scammers initially planned to only steal users’ login credentials, but when RuneScape developer Jagex enabled 2FA, the cybercriminals put together phishing emails designed to steal the two-factor authentication codes.

Apart from gamers other top phishing campaigns included, banking institutions, COVID-19 scares, gift card schemes, and the roman catholic church. In another specific phishing incident, a targeted campaign against Citi Bank customers was carried out by duplicating the bank’s home page to steal user logins. Online banking is quick and convenient, and it is easy for people to fall for detailed spoofed bank home pages. Ensure you visit the official website or call the official number provided on your bank cards or official statements. Also, be sure you verify the website by ensuring that it utilizes HTTPS protocols and security certificates.

Another scam that is expected to increase the closer we get to the upcoming holiday season is gift cards. The researchers found hackers selling stolen gift cards. Gift cards are an easy target for hackers due to comparatively low security and are not being limited to use by a single person, unlike debit or credit cards. Attackers use websites to guess a card's number and pin repeatedly to find the perfect combination. To avoid falling victim to this scam make sure to verify the cards you are purchasing are not activated until after purchase, the card provides a long PIN, and continue to check the value of the gift card after to ensure it is not being used.

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