A virus is a software program designed to make its way onto your computer with the intention of causing potentially irreparable damage to its hard drive and files. Viruses are not the only danger to your computer but they are the most commonly known form. Viruses are a type of malware, or malicious software which is designed specifically to download onto your device, whether it is your desktop PC, smartphone, or tablet in order to manipulate or damage them.
Furthermore, malware which has been downloaded onto your device can also record and steal your information such as credit card account details. Many people are familiar with the most common forms of malware including phishing scams, adware, spyware, viruses and worms. But here we will explore other hacking methods that are less well known but still result in users obtaining viruses, malware or the risk of being hacked.
Social Media Scams and Malware
Something we have all experienced on social media is clickbait and this has become a popular business in recent years. Clickbait is defined as “content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page”.
When someone posts a link on social media such as Facebook or Twitter, they will include a headline to entice users to click on the link to see more, without really telling them what site they will be taken to.
Here users are often asked to enter their personal contact information which could be collected and sold to cybercriminals. The most obvious scenario is when new TV shows become the focal point of social media, various platforms will become heavily populated with posts asking you to click a link to get a preview of the latest episode. This is a classic example of a ploy which hackers use to persuade individuals to click on strange links and thus, downloading unknown files.
Exploit kits are a type of toolkit that is used with the intent to exploiting any security holes found in software applications, simply for the purpose of distributing malware. These kits target users by running insecure or outdated software applications on their computers and in 2015, Yahoo fell victim to this as they hosted malicious ads that redirected users to websites hosting these kits.
Ransomware is a topic most people associate with laptops and computers but with the increase in the number of smartphones that people use today, this has given cyber criminals a window of opportunity to attack users whilst on the go.
Again, mobile ransomware heavily exploits the use of social media sites to trick people into downloading what they think is innocent content. Once downloaded, the ransomware then encrypts files or locks the device and demands a ransom payment to unencrypt the files or to unlock the device. People who fall victim to this are likely to respond by making the payment as many of us store content that is essential to our personal and professional lives.
Online Gaming Malware Attacks
Online gaming is becoming an increasingly popular market for cybercriminals. Dedicated gamers tend to spend quite some time building up characters and in the world of gaming, these can be sold at a very attractive price. Gaming and gamers are therefore the perfect target and are very vulnerable to concept of malware. If a user’s account is hacked,cybercriminals can steal player credentials and then gain access to their gaming account. This then allows them to transfer in-game assets to other accounts, and sell those assets on the grey market, which is an unauthorised, but not necessarily illegal place that is used to sell virtual items and currency for real money.
Browser Extension Adware and Malware
If you find your web browser is randomly being redirected to the “Ads by Browser Extension” advertisements when using the Internet, then it is possible that your computer has been infected with an adware program.
As a result, downloading free software “Ads by Browser Extension” is a form of adware which may appear as a result of the download and could install itself onto your computer without you wanting it there or – even without your knowledge. Common symptoms of adware being installed include an increase in advertising banners and pop ups being displayed, trying to trick the user into downloading fake updates or other software.
What can we learn from these methods?
Cybercriminals are always coming up with new and inventive ways to scam you and their methods can come in all shapes and sizes. Although systems to tackle these threats are being developed, cybercrime will always be a step ahead therefore its vital that we have the best understanding of the threats so we can put our knowledge into practice so we can stay safe and secure on a daily basis.
Request a demo of our phishing simulation software MetaPhish and target phishing and ransomware attacks directly to your staff to increase your employees’ sensitivity to these fraudulent emails. You can also contact us about our eLearning module on Essential Phishing Awareness to help your staff understand what to look out for in a phishing email.