Valentine’s Day is special for couples around the world. It’s that time of the year when you celebrate the spirit of love, and it’s the perfect occasion to show your partner how much they mean to you.
But apart from the couples celebrating the season of love, who else enjoys Valentine’s Day occasion? The answer might shock you: Cybercriminals!
It’s not uncommon for our hearts to go soft as the day approaches. It’s easier to fall for hacks and scams during the Valentine season. While our guards are down, cybercriminals can take advantage of the situation by sending us online gift cards or any other material that may contain viruses or malware.
According to one estimate, over $300,000 were lost to “sweetheart” cyber scams in a single US state alone. So, before you pour your heart out to a criminal, we suggest that you go through the following tips to stay safe on Valentine’s Day.
1. Valentine E-Card Scam
Hackers are smart and they know quite well that we love receiving a Valentine’s Day card. When a hacker sends you an E-Card, they mischievously ask you to download a separate software as well, usually claiming to help…
Once downloaded… You’re at the hacker’s mercy!
It is difficult to resist opening links that come with these so-called Valentine E-Cards. We forget or overlook that these links are often infected with malware and/or viruses.
No matter how love-deprived you are, try your best not to download any file or click any suspicious links this Valentine’s Day.
2. Spammy Valentine’s Day Offers
It’s normal for you to purchase jewelry, watches, or other similar gifts for your loved one during the season. Just like every other shopping season, hackers set up scammy websites or send you emails filled with spam that offer exclusive Valentine’s Day deals and discounts for your significant other. By offering fake deals, they often convince you to expose your financial details. Guess who’s paying the price…
Whatever you do, just make sure you don’t fall for these scams. We suggest that you purchase your Valentine gift from a reputed retailer only.
3. Rogue Dating Websites
Dating websites receive the highest activity during the Valentine season. We all want to celebrate the day with a partner, and hence we turn to these services to find someone who can add more to our life.
However, a bigger issue with these websites is there are no checks on the ads that are placed on them. Rogue adverts and profiles are common, each promoting malicious links that download malware and viruses on your device.
In the event of a match, the user may be asked to check out “my other profile” which is sent in the form of a shortened URL. Opening such links immediately expose you to dangerous malware.
Always stay away from such links when visiting any dating website.
4. Infected UPS Notifications
Isn’t it amazing to receive surprise gift packages on Valentine’s Day? You may receive plenty of UPS notifications on the day. As exciting as it may be to receive a surprise gift, make sure you do not click any notification that has no name or item details mentioned in it.
Clicking on these links will likely download a malware file on your device, or send you to a website infected with terrible stuff.
These hackers really do come up with ingenious ideas, don’t they?!
5. Love Bots
What if you get text messages from people who claim to like you a lot? While the person on the profile may look attractive, there is a chance that it’s just a fake profile being managed by a love bot.
Love bots have an ulterior motive: they take advantage of your vulnerability. When they’re sure that you are in a vulnerable state, they’ll ask you to open a link containing their private photos. More often than not, these links only lead to an infected website filled with dangerous malware that automatically downloads onto your system.
6. Avoid Sharing Private Photos
You may meet someone on the web who’ll claim to have a crush on you. After sending you an excited picture of themselves, this person may ask for a private photo in return. This photo can later be used to blackmail you into sending ransom to the perpetrator.
It’s also not uncommon for people to send private photos to loved ones who live far away. In the event of a bad break-up, these photos can then be used for revenge porn.
It is always better to avoid sharing any material that can later be used against you.
7. Fake Florists
Flowers make the perfect Valentine’s Day surprise. This is particularly why hackers use fake florist websites to trap their victims.
How can this be avoided? If you must use a website, please make sure it’s reputed and safe. We’d recommend picking your own flowers though- that would be super romantic!
Your Online Safety is Our Utmost Priority
Prevention is the best way to ensure your safety on the web. There’s another more reliable method for online safety as well, and that comes with a VPN.
A VPN ensures your safety and anonymity on the web. It allows you to hide your original public IP that helps you in remaining anonymous on the web. With a VPN, your web traffic passes through encrypted tunneling protocols that are especially designed to keep your web activity safe and private.
Other than that, important features like DDoS protection and Malware protection ensure your safety from dangerous threats that are lurking on the internet.
So, before you start shopping this Valentine’s Day, we suggest that you get a VPN to ensure bullet-proof security on the web.