The 12 internet scams of Christmas

By Rosalyn Page on Dec 15, 2011 8:12 AM
Filed under Security

A timely reminder of some security traps we see every year.

1. On the first day of Christmas, I downloaded an advent calendar that unleashed a virus attack on my computer.

Santa says: be very cautious of downloaded games and novelties unless from a trusted source, or you could find yourself with an unwanted security breach.

2. On the second day of Christmas, I scanned a QR code with my smartphone to find a good deal on a Christmas hamper.

Santa says: QR codes, or digital barcodes, can link to malware or other nasties that can be installed on your phone and steal your private information. Again, trust the source. 

3. On the third day of Christmas, a Twitter follower sent a private message with a link to a Christmas card.

Santa says: The shortened links in some Tweets mean you can click on something without realising where it's really going, or without bothering to check. You might also receive a link from a follower sent in a private message. If their account has been hacked the message will appear to be from a legitimate follower.

4. On the fourth day of Christmas, I bought a cheap iPhone online that I'm still waiting to be delivered.

Santa says: Where possible opt for shopping through local websites as you’re covered by Australian consumer protection laws and follow the rule that if a deal looks too good to be true, it usually is.

5. On the fifth day of Christmas, I clicked on a Facebook giveaway page that offered a $200 voucher for an online shopping site that was nothing but a hoax.

Santa says: companies don’t usually give away large-value vouchers for commenting or liking a Facebook page.

6. On the sixth day of Christmas, I bought a cheap holiday with some bargain airfares from a travel website.

Santa says: Apply the commonsense test about why a holiday or flights would be so cheap and, if it looks too good to be true ... you know the rest.

7. On the seventh day of Christmas, I opened an email with some funny dancing elves that shuts down my computer.

Santa says: Never, never, never open emails or attachments from unknown senders. If suspicious, delete.

8. On the eighth day of Christmas, I paid for some presents using my mobile phone and the free wireless in a cafe.

Santa says: use mobile networks rather than unsecured wireless networks such as those in cafes and fast food outlets if making financial transactions on your phone, as you risk your PIN and account details being stolen.

9. On the ninth day of Christmas, the bank rang about my credit card being hit with some unusually large purchases after I’d done by online present shopping.

Santa says: when paying for something online, make sure that the address uses the secure https and displays a closed padlock symbol as well as SSL encryption so that your credit card and other financial information is protected.

10. On the tenth day of Christmas, I did a Google search for some festive Santa suits online.

Santa says: don’t just follow the top search engine results without checking that the business is legitimate. Criminals and scammers can target search engine results to capture unsuspecting victims.

11. On the eleventh day of Christmas, I clicked on a flashing banner on a website offering cheap personalised Christmas cards.

Santa says: flashing banners and advertisements aren’t just annoying because they distract you from the site you’re on, they can potentially take you to infected sites that can attack your computer before you realise.

12. On the twelfth day of Christmas, I installed a Christmas wallpaper app that ate my data usage allowance and sent my user data without my permission.

Santa says: only download legitimate apps from either iTunes or the Android Marketplace and check the handset settings about what updates and user data is authorised.
 
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