Category Archives: Secure Web Browser

Social Media Scams Based on Current Events

Social Media Scams Based on Current Events

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Social Media Scams Based on Current Events

We are sure you’ve seen them lurking in your news feeds- breaking news reporting a celebrity’s death, photos of natural disasters striking major cities, video footage of riots and outrage over an accidental shooting- all seemingly legitimate news stories. However, this “news” may not be what it seems.

In 2016, Facebook has reported that it has 1.71 billion monthly active Facebook users. Twitter has 313 million monthly active users. With so many active users, popular social sites are a scammer’s paradise. Scammers will try to entice you into clicking by posting sensational or emotional breaking news stories; sometimes capitalizing on a recent news event, or making up a fake, shocking news story. The motives are the same; scammers try to exploit these stories for any kind of financial gain possible.

There are several different types of tactics scammers will use to try to lure you into taking the bait: impersonating victims or family members of a tragic event; selling souvenirs or memorabilia while claiming the proceeds go to charity; or by posting photos and videos of the event.

Click With Caution
You may have seen a fake videos or news stories circulating on social media sites after an extremely newsworthy event. The post states that the user needs to share the content before it can be viewed. After sharing the video, users are taken to a page asking the user to fill out a survey before viewing. Seems harmless enough, right? Hardly. The survey will gather sensitive personal information that can be used in phishing attacks. In addition to collecting sensitive data, the scammers will also earn money per completed survey and in turn, will sell that information to other scammers.

There are many variations of these types of scams, and it is not always a survey. Users will try to view the video, and are taken to a page stating that they need to download a plug-in in order to view the video correctly. This “plug-in” is malware in disguise, usually a form of spyware that is then installed on the user’s computer that will track and collect information such as bank accounts, Social Security numbers and anything else that can be used in attempting identity theft.

In addition to trying to install malware on your computer, there are other objectives. Sometimes these links will redirect you to adult websites or spam sites in an attempt to boost web traffic, or to install malicious Facebook applications that can steal your personal data.
Ways to Spot a Fake
Be skeptical. Just because you see it on your feed doesn’t necessarily mean it is true. Sometimes, your friends may have fallen victim to the scam and are not aware of it; scammers using clickjacking could have hijacked their account.

Always check the link before clicking. You can do that by either hovering over the link or looking directly below the link itself on the Facebook post, which shows the referring website’s URL. Only visit known and trusted websites. You can also use Norton Safe Searchto verify the legitimacy of a website as well.

Be very suspicious when there is a call to action before being able to view the content. Moreover, actions such as having to share the media before viewing, requests to take a survey or download additional software are all huge red flags.

If you need to know if the event happened, use a search engine to verify the validity of the headline. If you were to type in the subject of the event, you would see stories about how it is a fake. If it were a real story, there would be several news articles listed about the event.

You can also visit trusted news sites such as CNN.com or AP.org to verify the story. Another great site for busting hoaxes is Snopes.com.

What to Do If You Fall for the Scam
In the event that you fall prey to one of these scams, here are a few steps you can take to clean up the damage and minimize it from spreading.

  • Remove the spam from your feed, so no other people fall victim to the scam.
  • Change your password immediately. Even if you do not think the scammers have access to it, it is better to be safe than sorry.
  • If you were tricked into installing a rogue app, remove it.
  • Run a virus scan! You may not always be aware that malware has been installed on your machine. Norton Security will scan your computer for malware, and using Norton Safe Search will notify you about malicious websites.
  • Create a post on your feed notifying friends of the scam, informing them not to click on anything strange or unusual coming from your page.
  • Report the scam to Facebook or Twitter, depending on where the content is hosted.

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What is The Most Secure Web Browser? Is There a One?

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Speed, plugins, compatibility and security: Those are the features most people consider when selecting a browser to support online activities. In the case of latter, choosing well can be vitally important for protecting a computer and the data it contains from malware. But, just how secure are web browsers today and is there one that stands above the others when it comes to locking down potential online threats?
The answer to those questions might surprise. According to NSS Labs, the company that researches IT products and their effectiveness, says there really isn’t a leader of the pack when all things are considered. While browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Internet Explorer are the most commonly used, they offer a mixed bag of results when it comes to security. To be sure, all five do offer forms of protection, but the fact of the matter is none are foolproof.

Browsers and Malware
In order to access websites, check social media accounts and even get web-based emails, it’s necessary to have a browser installed on a computer. This portal into the online world serves as a launch point for many activities. Inasmuch, browsers are a favorite target for hackers to go after as they attempt to plant malware on computers. NSS Labs, in fact, says browsers are “the primary vector by which malware is introduced to computers” in its 2013 CAR Browser Socially Engineered Malware report.
Browsers are used by those who plant malware in a number of ways. They are vulnerable to delivering up compromised web sites, downloads infected with Trojans, links to phishing emails and more. The Top 5 most commonly used browsers do offer malware blocking features, but NSS Labs’ report concludes that none of them are 100 percent effective in doing so.
Here’s how the Top 5 stacked up in NSS Labs’ most recent testing of browsers and malware:

  • Internet Explorer: This browser performed the best in blocking malware with a 99.96 success rate.
  • Chrome: Google’s entry into the browser market came in second with at 83.16 percent.
  • Safari 5: This browser came in far behind IE and Chrome with a 10.15 percent success rate.
  • Firefox: Its 9.92 percent success rate puts it near the bottom of the pack.
  • Opera: “Offered virtually no malicious download protection, with a 1.87 percent score,” NSS Labs’ report found.

Other Security Features
Browsers often do more than just attempt to block and protect from malware. Phishing and privacy protections are also among the security features touted. NSS Labs also conducts tests that compare browsers and their ability to protect against these things. On these points, the Top 5 browsers also showed a mixed bag of results. All major browsers, for example, allow third-party cookies onto systems with the exception of Safari that blocks and Internet Explorer that provides a partial block. In regard to Phishing, Chrome and IE performed the best, but again, no single browser was 100 percent successful.

Lessons Learned
The takeaway from NSS Labs’ browser security studies is relatively simple: There is no single browser that provides a solid lock on Internet activity. While some perform very well at protecting users from the pitfalls of online usage, none are 100 percent infallible. With that in mind, it’s important for computer owners to take extra measures to protect themselves when their online.

Extra Security
There are measures that can be taken to boost security when online. In addition to relying on a browser’s built-in protections, users can:

  • Exercise caution when following links, especially those that arrive via email.
  • Run scans on a regular basis.
  • Take care when downloading anything new via the Internet.
  • Steer clear of unknown websites.
  • Use antivirus and antimalware protections.

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