Cyber-criminals, spammers and virus writers used high-profile celebrities and headline news to dupe computer users in 2009, according to a report by a leading security firm.
The five riskiest celebrities used to promote malware such as viruses in 2009 were Michael Jackson, Serena Williams, Patrick Swayze, Harry Potter, and President Barack Obama, according to security software company Symantec.
Spammers took advantage of the death of the King of Pop and deluged the internet with emails titled ‘Who killed Michael Jackson’.
They also cashed in on fears surrounding swine flu with emails claiming you could ‘Get swine flu medicine here’.
Virus threats to watch out for in 2010
The report from also highlighted the types of security threat that people should be on the alert for next year.
Symantec says it expects the abuse of social networking websites will continue to pose a threat in 2010 – especially when it comes to fraud.
Scareware threat set to increase
Scareware such as websites touting fake anti-virus programmes is expected to be a growing threat in 2010.
John Bogue, supervisor of the free Which? Computing Helpdesk said: ‘We get a lot of emails from members who are being urged to install software to protect their computers.
‘These fake messages claim your computer has been infected in order to sell you a bogus security program. It’s concerning to us that this trend is set to increase into 2010.’
Bogue advises that you run a full scan with your existing security software, which will tell you in most cases that you’re actually virus-free.
Mac and mobile viruses on the rise
owners who have previously avoided the attention of virus writers will find that they are increasingly targeted this year, too, claims Symantec.
And with the country poised for a general election, Symantec warns that specialist malware could target electronic voting systems in the same way that criminals targeted ATM systems in 2009.
Sarah Kidner, editor of Which? Computing said: ‘Good security software, such as Which? Best Buy security software, goes a long way to protecting your computer. ‘For a complete security solution, however, you need to combine that with a healthy dose of common sense.’
Best Buy Security software
You can read reviews of Best Buy security software on Which.co.uk, including:
Tips for protecting your PC
• Don’t open suspicious emails or attachments
• Don’t respond to emails asking for personal information
• Use up-to-date security software
• Secure your wireless network
• Use strong passwords
• Review your and credit card statements regularly for suspicious transactions
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