Be Mine? Spam, Social Network Fraud Proliferates for the Season of Love

Spammers have worked hard to take advantage of the Valentine’s Day season with socially-engineered spam, and other common online dangers like social networking scams are also trying to take advantage of the season.

According to Trend Micro, one day's worth of monitoring netted eight million samples of Valentine’s Day spam, and some of them aren't even using the word “Valentine,” which means that the cybercriminals are stepping up their game.

The firm’s results, sent to Infosecurity by email, show that the IPs of the senders seem to be located in a wide variety of countries. Iran, for one, seems to be the source of more than 12% of the spam itself, while other top sending countries are United States, Vietnam, Spain and Argentina.

Meanwhile, social networks have revolutionized the way individuals interact and relate, especially when it comes to matter of romance. Blue Coat warned that consumers should be careful when going on Facebook, using e-mail, texting with friends or pretty much any other social networking on or around February 14.

Hugh Thompson, CTO of Blue Coat, noted in an email that February 14 is often a day to hear from past loves. “But, we must remember in the era of social networking, we have never been more knowable at a distance as we are today,” he said. “Attackers can leverage your information from your social networks profiles to produce very credible and personalized attacks. They can exploit the knowledge of victims to access critical systems and data. Be careful if you receive what looks like a message from someone you apparently know—like a past love.”

Consumers should also watch out for a significant increase in "love"-based online fraud.

“The Organised Crime Agency in the UK, which is the US equivalent is the FBI, released a study that reported that 2% of the population has been impacted by these scams,” Thompson said. “Among the most common scams are fundraising for diseases, opening a joint bank account to get married, a professional who must constantly travel and needs money for an emergency or a loving parent who must pay school fees for their children.”

And finally, beware postcards, messages and fake video.

“In the coming days these could invade our email and social networking accounts with links to download cards or postcards, romantic photos, product offerings, wallpapers, love advice, miracle pills, virtual appointments and videos that actually hide malware,” Thompson warned.

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