Users at Risk of Online Scams this Valentine’s Day

Smartphone users could be leaving themselves vulnerable to online scams this Valentine’s Day, researchers from ESET have warned.

The firm carried out a survey into people’s resolutions for the year and discovered that whilst one in eight are looking for love in 2019, only 39% were sure they had anti-virus software on their mobile phones. That’s a concerning statistic, because those who said they were committed to finding love also stated they would consider downloading an app, entering an online competition or clicking through to a deal received via email to take advantage of limited-time offers to do so.

“Many people will be looking for love via their smartphones this Valentine’s Day, however smartphone users with no anti-virus software are opening themselves up to some serious threats,” said Branislav Orlik, product manager for mobile security at ESET. “While an email deal may seem enticing, clicking through on an unsafe link or entering your details online can make you vulnerable to hackers and leave your personal data at risk. It is crucial to consider how you can best protect your devices.”

Scammers and fraudsters often play on people’s emotions and capitalize on popular holiday seasons and specific calendar dates to maximize the effectiveness of their attacks, and the most romantic day of the year is no exception.

In fact, research from Mimecast has found the threat actors behind GandCrab, or cyber-criminals using GandCrab as Ransomware-as-a-Service, have been using the build up to this year’s Valentine’s Day to target victims.

In its Threat Intelligence Report Mimecast said that GandCrab, which has only been around for just over 12 months, has had “large success and released a number of different versions, the latest being V5.1.6.” The ransomware includes a number of interesting features, including the ability to detect a Russian victim (and stop the infection if they have a Russian configured keyboard) and individual ransom notes.

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