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Donít be Caught by Phishing

Spammers thrive during the hectic holiday season because consumers are spending more time online and are more likely to let their guard down," said Joel Smith, Chief Technology Officer at AppRiver. "This year we expect cybercriminals to become even more aggressive and creative with their tactics, which range from technically-advanced malware to socially-engineered phishing campaigns."

To ensure a safe and secure holiday season, consumers should keep the following tips in mind:

--Fake Holiday E-Cards
These popular greeting cards are often replicated and used to transport malicious malware such as the Storm Worm virus, which infects the recipient’s computer and then uses it to control additional computers. Consumers can avoid falling prey to these attacks by discarding e-cards from senders they don’t recognize or by going to the official website of the greeting card provider, which typically will have instructions for safely retrieving a legitimate greeting.

--Credit Card Phishing
As holiday spending gets underway, consumers are likely to see an increase in emails supposedly from financial institutions, claiming missed credit card payments, unauthorized transactions or problems with the recipient’s account and containing a link to enter the correct financial data. Unsuspecting shoppers are also vulnerable to phishing campaigns that use replicas of legitimate e-commerce sites, such as eBay, Amazon and PayPal, to extract credit card numbers and account information. For secure online banking and shopping, always open a new browser and go directly to the retailer’s website rather than following a link, and never respond to emails or pop-up windows asking for financial information.

--Charity Scams
Cybercriminals often exploit the holiday spirit of giving with mass email campaigns claiming to be from charities, and this year is no exception. To ensure that donations go to a worthy recipient and not into spammers’ pockets, always go directly to a charity’s official website and thoroughly research the organization before providing personal information or making a donation.

--Social Networking Spam
Spammers and phishers are increasingly using social networking sites such as MySpace to target certain demographics with unsolicited advertisements or free gift offers. These messages often appear to come from an online friend and can range from mere annoyances to phishing scams designed to harvest email addresses or steal account logins and passwords. Individuals should use privacy settings to restrict who can access their information on these sites and should never click on a link posted by an unknown source.

--IRS Phishing Expeditions
While not specific to the holidays, there have been a recent wave of fake IRS emails that claim the recipient overpaid his or her taxes and must click a link to enter bank information and receive the extra money. Another version complains of a lack of payment and comes with an attachment that, when opened, downloads a virus designed to collect personal information from the user’s computer. As with any other legitimate institution, the IRS will never send important information by email; when in doubt, contact the agency directly by phone.

For more information, contact InfoGate (www.info-gate.com) a Division of IGate Inc Oakland Ca for more information.

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