People are turning to e-cards as a low cost and eco-friendly way to deliver the season’s greetings to friends and loved ones. Yet new research by global internet security firm AVG Technologies found that almost three quarters (74 per cent) of the people it polled said they would automatically open an e-card if it were from a friend or colleague.
The message, warns AVG, is to pick the e-cards you read very carefully. “Criminals are using this growing medium to deliver viruses and other security threats to the computers of their unsuspecting victims. Because risky e-cards are typically made to look as though they have been sent from a trusted party, usually a friend or relative, they fool the recipient into opening them,” said Lloyd Borrett, Marketing Manager of AVG (AU/NZ).
E-cards are considered such a risk that in America the FBI has issued formal warnings, after fraudulent emails were sent in the name of the Deputy Director. Research from AVG’s labs indicates an estimated 500 million e-cards and greetings will be sent online this Christmas.
If only 0.1% of e-greetings sent during this festive period contain a security threat – that’s still tens of thousands of damaged or compromised PCs. This many damaged PCs adds up to a great deal in terms of lost family photos and videos, lost work, and emails.
Plus compromised PCs often become distributors of spam or their owners may become the targets of identity theft. The good news is that these internet security threats can be avoided.
Experts at AVG Technologies have compiled five tips so that internet users can send and receive e-cards with peace of mind.
1. Don't open attachments: Most legitimate e-cards are links to the company's website that allow you to go directly to your card. Avoid attachments and don't download anything from a source you don't recognise.
2. When in doubt, delete: If something looks a little strange or “phishy”, such as the name of the sender or vague subject lines, just delete the card. It's better to do that than run the risk of getting a virus.
3. Know where you’re going online: Use security software* that detects and blocks web sites that push online scams, adware installations, attachments filled with viruses and other malicious downloads that could harm your system.
4. Know what to look for: While most e-card scams actually look legitimate, there are usually some tell-tale signs to look for. Watch out for misspelled words or names, not knowing who sent you the card, a disguised name (such as Your Friend, A Secret Admirer, etc.), and an odd web site address.
5. Always read fine print before accepting any terms: Make sure you actually read the fine print before agreeing to anything. Some e-card scams list in their terms that they can send email to everyone in your address book. Make sure you know what you are agreeing to.
*This doesn’t have to cost a cent: download AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 8.0 with LinkScanner technology here: www.avgfree.com.au
AVG Technologies AU
About AVG Technologies N.V. (NYSE: AVG)
AVG is the leading provider of software services to secure devices, data and people. AVG’s award-winning consumer portfolio includes internet security, performance optimization, location services, data controls and insights, and privacy and identity protection, for mobile devices and desktops. The AVG Business portfolio, delivered through a global partner network, provides cloud security and remote monitoring and management (RMM) solutions that protect small and medium businesses around the world. For more information visit www.avg.com.
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