Protecting Your Heart and Wallet Against Phishing This Valentine’s Day

Protecting Your Heart and Wallet Against Phishing This Valentine’s Day

As we navigate the digital dimensions of love and affection this Valentine’s Day 2024, the landscape is both vast and fraught with pitfalls. In an eye-opening revelation, January saw the creation of 18,171 new domains containing ‘Valentine’ or ‘love’, indicating a 39% increase from the previous month and a 17% increase from the year before. Alarmingly, 1 out of every 8 of these domains was found to be malicious or risky, underscoring the hidden dangers in our search for connection.

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 The threat doesn’t stop there; on a weekly basis, 1 out of every 27 organizations faced attempts to access these perilous websites—a stark increase of 34% from the previous month and a whopping 175% from the previous January. This trend highlights the escalating cybersecurity risks that accompany major events like Valentine’s Day.

The Seductive Lure of Scams and Phishing

Phishing attacks, the most common form of social engineering, manipulate users into divulging sensitive information or clicking malicious links. With the rise of AI tools like ChatGPT, these scams have become more sophisticated, leveraging fake domains and chatbots to mimic legitimate entities or even potential romantic partners.

As before many major events, scammers spread phishing and spam emails promoting special offers to entice users to go into fraudulent and potentially malicious websites, which could lead to money loss, information theft or even malware infections.

This could be using discount promotions, like seen in an email sent from “Defense Gutters Offer” suggesting an offer of “20% off, plus an additional 10% for seniors and military personnel”, but contains a link to the website meioside\.xyz, which was first registered in January 2024 and detected as malicious by various security vendors.

 An additional example is an email sent from the address info@bestqualitymak\.com, which cannot be tracked back to an active website. The email (see below) offers to fill a survey and receive a special Stanley Valentine’s cup, with a photo which seems to be a fake for the actual Stanley brand (which has an official website – stanley1913.com). It also adds a sense of urgency saying that “this survey offer expires today”. The website in the link (under the domain aimhighfly\.com) is identified as malicious by security vendors and is currently not active. It is possible this was used to steal personal and payment information.

 · Unusual Attachments: Be wary of emails with suspicious attachments, such as ZIP files or documents that require enabling macros.

· Incorrect Grammar or Tone: Though AI has improved the quality of phishing emails, inconsistencies in language or tone can still be red flags.

· Suspicious Requests: Any email that asks for sensitive information or makes unusual demands should be treated with skepticism.

Staying Safe

· Don’t Reply, Click Links, or Open Attachments: Engaging with a suspicious email only increases the risk.

· Report and Delete: Reporting suspicious emails before deleting them can help protect others from falling victim to similar scams.

· Invest in Anti-Phishing Solutions: Tools like Check Point Harmony Email & Collaboration Suite Security offer comprehensive protection against phishing attempts, safeguarding your digital communications.

Rabindra

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