‘Will You Be My Valentine?’

There are just 1 days left to Valentine day.  Valentine is a big occasion for young generation who is more netsavvy. The cyber crime instances targeting valentine day is going to take big proportion in coming days because cyber criminals are adept at targeting holidays and current events as bait for attacks.  The cyber criminals are using V-Day as a golden opportunity to use the popular and cheap medium of internet to spread viruses and other malware to the computers of unsuspecting victims. Cyber Criminals have successfully exploited the emerging market and are trying new techniques while continuing to use proven strategies. So realistic is the threat can be established from the fact that even, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has identified the Valentine’s Day as the next target for the cyber criminals to spread malware on unsuspecting users machines. How you can be victim of Valentine day cyber vandalism? There may be number of ways:

  • A group of Russian cyber-criminals took advantage of Saint Valentine’s Day to distribute an application that supposedly let users send romantic photos to their partners via MMS. The application offered a number of images that users could send to their loved ones, but actually sent SMS text messages to a premium rate number without the owner knowing.
  • A user having Facebook Account found a tempting offer on her FB account: a perfect gift for her fiancé. The user filled in the application sharing all her information including her personal id. Soon she realised that her email id had been hacked.
  • One user got an unsolicited email which directed him to the website which contained pictures of hearts and puppies, and user was asked to choose which one was for him. User selected one by making a single which in turn started downloading the Trojans on his computer and the computer became hostage to the cyber criminals.
  • Attackers send out spam promoting bargains for flowers, romantic dinners, jewelry, or other Valentine’s Day gift related themes. Clicking on the offer might takes the user to a malicious site that could compromise a vulnerable PC, or it can take user to a site that looks legitimate, and asks for credit card, and other personal information to “complete the order”.
  • Valentine’s Day-themed spam: One type of bait that cybercriminals use to snoop on financial information is through sending out holiday themed emails that advertise items one may want to purchase. In regards to Valentine’s Day, users often receive spam in their inbox about deals on roses, chocolates, jewellery, etc. clicking which takes to a false website where one pays money online but merchandise is never delivered.
  • Unsafe searches and malicious malware: Searching for holiday-themed content, whether they be gifts or e-cards, poses significant security risks if a PC or device is not protected. The said sites may contain malware which can damage your PC or simply trick the unsuspecting users to give their personal identifying details like their usernames, bank account details which can later be used for identity theft. “Love on Valentine day can not only leave you with a broken heart but broken/infected computer also”.

Further, Panda Labs, the Anti-malware laboratory of Panda Security have identified few Valentine’s Day-themed malware campaigns:

  • Waledac.C: This worm spread by email trying to pass itself off as a greeting card. The email message included a link to download the card. However, if the user clicked the link and accepted the subsequent file download they were actually letting the Waledac.C worm into their computer. Once it infected the computer, the worm used the affected user’s email to send out spam.
  • I Love.exe you: This was a RAT (Remote Access Trojan) that gave attackers access to the victim’s computer and all their personal information. The Trojan allowed the virus creator to access target computers remotely, steal passwords and manage files.
  • Nuwar.OL: This worm spread in email messages with subjects like “I love You So Much”, “Inside My Heart” or “You in My Dreams”. The text of the email included a link to a website that downloaded the malicious code. The page was very simple and looked like a romantic greeting card with a large pink heart. Once it infected a computer, the worm sent out a large amount of emails, creating a heavy load on networks and slowing down computers.
  • Valentin.E: This worm spread by email in messages with subjects like “Searching for True Love” or “True Love” and an attached file called “friends4u”. If the targeted user opened the file, a copy of the worm was downloaded. Then, the worm sent out emails with copies of itself from the infected computer to spread and infect more users.
  • Storm Worm: This worm spread via email by employing a number of lures, one of them exploiting Valentine’s Day. If the targeted user clicked the link in the email, a Web page was displayed while the worm was downloaded in the background. Web page displayed by Storm Worm.

Tips to avoid falling victim to cyber scam

  • Do not open emails or messages received on Facebook from unknown senders.
  • When you receive email promotions, be very wary. Do not open unsolicited e-mail or click on any links in messages unless you know where it came from, and what the message contains.
  • Don’t let your curiosity put you at risk; no matter how tempting it is to know who your ‘secret admirer’ may be, there’s a great chance that in reality it is none other than a cyber criminal! Remember, curiousity killed the cat!
  • Moreover, if you are recipient of an unsolicited email, don’t jump to it and careful about the email send more particularly if it has been send by some unknown sender. Use your common sense, do not open any unsolicited e-mail and do not click on any links therein.
  • Do prefer to send gift through your own hand not via the internet. Some of the search made on Google can reveal the whole trick. If one makes search for these key words on Google, one can easily see the warning on the Google itself that these sites are not protected and may carry spam. So think, twice before clicking the search results, as it may infect your computer dearly.
  • Do not run attached files that come from unknown sources. Especially these days, stay on the alert for files that claim to be Valentine Day’s greeting cards, romantic videos, etc.
  • Even if the page seems legitimate, but asks you to download something, you should be suspicious and don’t accept the download. If, in any event, you download and install any type of executable file and you begin to see unusual messages on your computer, you have probably been infected with malware.
  • Do not use shared or public computers, or an unsecured WiFi connection, for making transactions or operations that require you to enter passwords or other personal details.
  • Have an effective security solution installed, capable of detecting both known and new malware strains.

V-Day cyber Scams and provisions of Information Technology, Act, 2000

The Information Technology Act, 2000 in its present form addresses these problems. If any girl receives any unwanted proposals via emails from known or unknown persons with tempting/offending messages, like, “I love you” “Kiss me dear”, “Happy Valentines Day – On this special day, just for you, come for a date with me”, the offence under Section 66A IT Act is attracted which punishes for sending offensive messages via email. Even, if one sends these types of email under some guise or pretext, the offence under the said section is attracted, as the said section clearly covers the act of deceptive anonymous emails misleading about the origin of such messages. Further, victim girl may receive spoofed SMS on their mobile phones making unwanted advances, which is also clearly covered under Section 66A IT Act, as the said section covers the electronic mail message send through computer device (read mobile phones). Further, if the aforesaid electronic mail or electronic mail message or any attachment with said email contains anything with sexual overtone may also attract Section 67 IT Act which punishes transmission of obscenity through electronic form. Further, if the victim girl is below 18 years and such email or SMS with obscene matter induces the underage victim girl for online relationship, then it may attract Section 67 B IT Act also which sternly deals with child pornography.

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