My funny Valentine – A public display of infection

Published February 11th, 2010 - 09:32 GMT

As the month of February begins, security vendors are anticipating a rise in criminal activity as we approach Valentine’s Day. Previous years have shown that along with flowers, chocolates and other gifts, malware related spam in form of Valentine’s messages is to be expected. In fact, researchers at Trend Micro, global internet security firm, have already identified targeted email scams aimed at luring unsuspecting consumers onto websites which advertise bogus offers on gifts and events for their special day.
 
As the popularity of social networks continues to grow and dominate consumers’ web time, cyber criminals are shifting their efforts from email to targeted threats on social networking sites. “While we still expect people’s inboxes and internet searches to be filled with malicious Valentines, we urge people not to let their guard down when it comes to Valentine’s messages on social networks”, Rik Ferguson, senior security advisor at Trend Micro pointed out
 
Recent research from the Online Publishers Association showed that use of sites offering pure communications such as email and IM had decreased by 41% since 2003. “You can bet that online criminals are aware of this too and will be tailoring part of their St. Valentine’s Day Massacre to social networks and new media”, Rik added.
 
The festive season has already seen a surge in the number of holiday themed Apps and researchers are expecting to see the same around Valentine’s day with over 231 Valentine’s related applications already available on Facebook to date.
 
Not only do these apps offer application providers the chance to make money through affiliate marketing, they also present an opportunity for information harvesting. On the malware front, Koobface was already seen distributing videos “from Santa” towards the end of last year. “I would be surprised not to see a Valentine’s themed assault on its favourite social networks”, Rik said.
 
Trend Micro is expecting social network groups, which have already been used to facilitate scams related to unlocking supposedly hidden social network site functions, giveaways and bogus charities, to be recycled for Valentines scams offering to let consumers know who has been looking at their profile or Ponzi schemes for Valentines gifts.

“In reality the luckless loveless will just be handing over their personal and perhaps even financial details to fraudsters or unknowingly signing up for repeat mobile subscriptions at rip-off prices”, according to Rik.

“The traditional Valentine’s greeting is sent unsigned and this can only be a help to scammers who are after your money, your computer and your personal information. I wonder how many people will be able to resist clicking on the link in the Tweet they may receive from @AnonymousValentine.”
 
“If the Valentines greeting isn’t made out of real card, then your Valentine doesn’t really love you”, he concluded.


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