Summer Puts the Heat on Phishing

Financial phishing in spam email increases during the summers months, according to a new report. Instead of taking a vacation during the season, thieves are more active than at other times of the year, and the rest of us have to be on high alert.

Phishing attacks often involve scammers “hiding behind” the names and identities of banks, payment services, online stores and similar organizations that you know and trust.

For instance, you may receive an email from “Paypal” alerting you to a problem with your account. The email will look perfectly legitimate – right down to the logo and design of the email. Often, the email is actually sent from an address with “paypal” in the URL, adding to the perceived legitimacy of the communication.

The email will tell you of a problem with your account, then ask that you follow a link to resolve the problem. If you make the mistake of following that link, you will be asked to enter your account information and password. If you do this, the thieves will have all they need to drain your account fast.

Now, while we use Paypal as an example here, keep in mind that all sorts of financial institutions are being targeted in a similar fashion by these thieves. Your best defense is to treat any such email contact with suspicion, and to never follow any links, or give anyone your log-in information. Instead, contact the company directly, using the information you have used in the past.

Research firm Kaspersky Lab has tracked these attacks, and found that they increased by 7.9% during the summer months. According to the company, the share of spam in the email traffic increased by 2.2 percentage points in July, bringing it to 67%.

The U.S. is the leading country of origin for unsolicited email, with one sixth of all global spam being sent from this country, Kaspersky said.

But why do these attacks increase during the summer? Perhaps it’s because people are a bit more relaxed during this season, and perhaps not paying the attention they might otherwise be at other times of the year.

Kaspersky also said that scammers target holiday-goers with specialized spam campaigns designed to appeal to people who are preparing for social activities during the season.

Whatever the reason is, just know that spam scams increase over the summer. While summer 2014 is now behind us, it’s good to keep this information in mind for next year. Just as with sunscreen, being prepared can help to keep you from getting burned.


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