As the holiday season approaches, brace yourself for an onslaught of e-mails imitating Amazon, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and other shopping sites.
Experts are already seeing phishing spam that is difficult to distinguish from a real e-mail from legitimate stores and web sites.
Promises of free shipping, coupons, and other bait to lure you into clicking a link to retrieve the code or coupon will initiate the installation of a virus or malware.
This year a virus known as “CryptoLocker” will encrypt your documents, pictures, music, perhaps even the entire hard drive of your computer. CryptoLocker is a type of “Ransomware”, as it will pop up messages with instructions on how to get the password to decrypt and gain access to your files.
“This is where the thieves get their money,” said Akron’s Chief Information Officer, Rick Schmahl. “By paying with various types of Internet funds, such as Bitcoin, they profit. Though cases exist of payments returning a valid password to decrypt, don’t count on it. You’re dealing with criminals. Their profit margin goes down if they spend time tracking and generating passwords, and good luck getting technical support if the password doesn’t work! Also, as various agencies shut down the operators of the ransomware, they’re inadvertently severing your ability to contact the crooks that might supply a password that works.”
The best advice is: have an anti-virus program and continuously update it, keep your operating system (such as Windows) current, back-up your hard drive and scrutinize your e-mail. A simple search on the internet will reveal many good articles on how to detect phishing e-mails.