Holiday hucksters won't stop at Cyber Monday

Filed Under: Featured, Privacy, Social networks, Spam

Santa image courtesy of ShutterstockAs with every holiday or well-recognized event, spammers shift away from their everyday offers of magical dietary supplements and instead pitch special "Cyber Monday" and "Black Friday" magical dietary supplements.

Not all Cyber Monday/Black Friday spam was harmless. Many of the typical offers of free iPads and $300 gift cards demanded your personal information and tried to sign you up for services you probably don't want.

While total spam volumes were down, there was no shortage of email spammers trying to take advantage of our interest in a good deal.

Spam messages from Thanksgiving shopping 2012

Above is an example of some emails I spotted this morning. Being from Michigan, I was happy to see there is no shortage of trucks from Detroit, but I am not likely to buy one from "50,000 trucks."

One problem consumers face this time of year is trying to figure out which "unbelievable, this week only" deals are real and which are fake, considering the insane discounts some merchants are offering.

Scams we see on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites often offer deals that are too good to be true as well. How can you tell the difference?

Easy! Don't trust any of them. Lots of people are looking to make money off of the Christmas giftgiving bonanza and many of them are scammers.

If you receive an email or online solicitation you are interested in, don't click any links.

If it is a company you already do business with, simply open a browser tab and go directly to its website, where you can learn about legitimate offers. If it is unsolicited, delete it.

One reason email spam volumes are dropping is that scammers are migrating to social media sites like Facebook. They can reach a large audience and bank on the trust you place in your friends for credibility.

When you see a post on someone's wall or a tweet from a colleague, treat it the same as an unsolicited email. Don't click it. Go to the real source and if necessary contact the sender to confirm its veracity.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may officially be over, but con artists will not likely pass up the opportunity to exploit Christmas/New Year's/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/End of Earth (Mayan)/Festivus.

Stay alert, my friends.

Santa image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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About the author

Chester Wisniewski is a Senior Security Advisor at Sophos Canada. He provides advice and insight into the latest threats for security and IT professionals with the goal of providing clear guidance on complex topics. You can follow Chester on Twitter as @chetwisniewski, on App.net as Chester, Chester Wisniewski on Google Plus or send him an email at chesterw@sophos.com.