Spam is not restricted to e-mails anymore. In fact, with every new means of communication that appears in the world wide web, scammers find a new way to send their malicious messages to millions of web users like you. Some of them are just plain annoying, while others are highly dangerous. They can lead you to phishing or malware-infected websites, so well-crafted that they seem legit. Without proper antivirus software and antiphishing tools to recognize these threats, you may easily fall victim to them.
Here’s an overview of the newest forms of spam and how they can affect you:
1. Social media spam
Facebook – if you see some shocking message and video on a friend’s profile, with thousands of Likes, don’t rush to see it. It might be a survey scam that’s after your personal details. Once you click on it, it gets a Like from you too, while urging you to complete a survey or download a malicious program in order to be able to see to the outraging content. This is likejacking, a way of spreading malicious links on Facebook by the users themselves, and a new form of spam that can really challenge your antivirus protection.
Twitter – is a heaven for spam pushing phishing scams. Cybercrooks create bogus Twitter accounts via which they send thousands of tweets with links to videos, photos, even fake antivirus programs that appear to be safe. But once you click on them, they redirect you a malicious website. Bad guys can also send you direct messages with links to some content involving your persona. Once you click on such a link, a fake Twitter log-in page appears where you have to enter your credentials. Crooks can then use those credentials to access your account and send the same message to your followers, hoping that they’ll fall for the scam too. Eventually they get hold of hundreds of credentials which they sell to other crooks.
Pinterest – allows everyone to post photos and Youtube videos which become visible on the wide, simple interface. Cybercrooks can also post hundreds of photos with enticing offers that, in fact, link to phishing websites. They also urge you to re-pin them, which helps spread the scam.
Google+ – if you include anybody in your circles, they may turn out to be either advertisers sending you hundreds of promotional messages for products you don’t want, or bad guys sending you alarming/offensive messages and links to malicious websites.
2. Phony News sites
These are fake news sites that instead of hosting relevant news, actually host low quality content and lots of ads. Their creators use enticing headlines, keywords and illegal SEO techniques to push them up in people's search results. The more people they draw to their sites, the more money they get from advertisers.
Another way for crooks to promote fake websites is to post comments to articles written by reputable online journals, where they mention some outlandish story with a “read more” link. This link actually leads to some phony website; for example, one that urges you to install antivirus software, because you’ve supposedly been infected. This antivirus software is fake and will infect your device.
3. Online ads
Nowadays, ads pop up everywhere on the web, this being another form of spam. They can be useful, but really annoying and dangerous, as well. Among the “clean” ads from legit companies, cybercrooks also place malvertisements leading to phishing websites or websites prompting you to download malware.
4. Mobile spam
Notification Ads – advertisers can spam you by incorporating adware into popular apps, mostly Android apps. These place ad icons onto your phone start screen or push ads into your notification bar.
Malicious apps – spammers can fill up the app stores everybody has access to (like Antroid Market) with all sorts of malicious apps. Many of them come disguised as popular apps but, in fact, contain some kind of virus – without antivirus software on your phone, you may end up with a racked up phone bill or important data stolen from your phone.
QR codes – marketers can spam you with advertising QR codes both online and offline. And so can cybercrooks. These folks can put a malicious QR on some wall, in a public place, or send it to you in a legit-looking e-mail. The possibilities of spreading them are numerous and so are your chances of getting infected without proper antivirus protection for your phone and PC.
How to avoid annoying and dangerous spam
- Be suspicious of links that promote too-good-to-be-true offers and freebies. Make sure they’re valid before clicking on them.
- Be wary of direct messages on social networks from strangers asking you to click on links. If they come from friends, make sure they are the real senders.
- If you don’t want everyone to see your posts/profiles and send you offensive messages, change your profiles to “private”.
- Don’t invite/allow anyone to join your Google + circles – only people you know and trust.
- If after clicking on a seemingly legit link, you’re redirected to a sign-in page supposedly belonging to Twitter, Facebook, or other social network you have an account with, look at the page URL. If it contains spelling mistakes, it’s malicious. Also, it should include //:https.
- Only access and subscribe to reputable online journals for quality content and real news.
- Find out what marketing company pushes ads to your phone, and request an opt-out.
- Download apps only from reputable app stores. Also, check the reviews from other users.
- Make sure you have effective antivirus programs with antiphishing protection on both your PC and your smartphone.
- Always, but always (!), use a Safe Browsing tool to flag out all links to malicious websites in your search results. Bullguard Antivirus 12 comes with this must-have feature.
- And because e-mail spam will never die, make sure you have an effective e-mail Spamfilter installed on your PC.
- You can use BullGuard Antivirus 12 that bundles up a customizable Spamfilter, a Safe Browsing feature and an Antivirus module that provides proactive antivirus protection against even the newest forms of malware, and phishing attempts.