As more people share more information online the risks of falling victim to phishing schemes has become more and more dangerous especially as these tactics become more advanced. A phishing is defined as “the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details, often for malicious reasons, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.” A report from 2014 states that the worldwide impact of phishing schemes could be as high as $5 billion per year. As people trust the internet more and more people forget about the dangers that come with it. A statement from Prakash Kumar, a national technology officer for Microsoft India touches on this saying, “The Internet touches our lives every day, whether we are communicating with loved ones, for work, shopping, and paying bills. But how cautious are we about monitoring our online presence, and taking note of our own vulnerabilities?”.
Over time these schemes have gotten more advanced and have become more difficult to identify. Now links are able to be disguised so that it appears the URL is reliable unless you actually look at it closely. Failing to preview these links by hovering with your mouse can lead to you falling victim to a dangerous website. Most mobile apps do not allow you to hover over the link and therefore are more successful in getting people to click. Even though there are spam filters in place to try to prevent these emails or messages from appearing in your inbox, as technology is more advanced it is easier to disguise the sender.
Netflix is one of the more recent victims to a phishing email in their name. The email tells users that they have an issue with their account and they need to enter their credit card information. The website uses Netflix logos further enticing people to enter their information in what they believe is Netflix website. This scam has been going on for months and is yet to be stopped because it is advanced enough to pass through most spam filters. This is dangerous for the websites whose names are being used because they lose trust of their valued customers. Below is a image of what the website looks like… it is so realistic which is why the scam has been so successful.
These scams are moving from emails to social media sites such as people acting as fake customer service reps on Twitter, fake Facebook users friending people and commenting links, promoting online discounts, etc. Even though we often think our ourselves as smart internet users, as the technology of these scams become more advanced they become harder to recognize.
We’ve talked in class about how so much more of the “customer service” aspect of companies has moved to social media. Many people post about their experience (positive or negative) and there is an expectation that the company will personally respond. Unfortunately, this has created a perfect opportunity for scammers to pose as these customer service experts hoping to get you to share personal information. This new type of phishing is know as “angler phishing”. Unfortunately, many people do not even realize they are falling victim to this because of how realistic the username and websites are able to be. This forces brands to often time reimburse customers for the damages and further incentivizes them to protect their brand image.
While we might not think leaving our profiles public makes us more vulnerable, this means that all the seemingly trivial information we share can be used against us. Similar to how advertising has become more targeted because of things like cookies, phishing techniques have also become more personal because scammers are able to gather information from your social profiles in order to make the bait more personal. Some hackers even will clone a friends profile in order to gain more access to your personal information. With so much content and so many users on these social media platforms it is hard for them to keep up with these scams and protect their users. Instead a lot of that burden falls on the users themselves.
Unfortunately, even years after these scams have been circling the internet they are still successful. Here are 5 common signs you might be scammed:
- Your account has been disabled or suspended
- Irregular or fraudulent activity detected
- Online retailer scams
- Fake pop-ups
So what does this mean for both consumers and retailers? Retailers are relying on customers to trust them… the less trust, the less likely they are to make a purchase. This can be very costly as many brands feel the need to reimburse any losses occurred through a scam with their name attached to it. Consumers are also required to be more careful when entering or posting sensitive information online. No matter how careful you think you’re being, there are probably more precautions you can take. If something seems too good to be true, it often is.
With Cyber Monday right around the corner, here are some tools to not get scammed.