Fraudsters cash in on Valentine's Day

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Kaspersky Lab advises romantics to keep their emotions in check.
Kaspersky Lab advises romantics to keep their emotions in check.

Researchers at Kaspersky Lab have observed a sharp rise in phishing activities from cyber crooks tempting romantics with a variety of goods for Valentine's Day.

The number of user attempts to visit fraudulent Web sites with romantic themes that were detected and blocked during the first half of February more than doubled compared to the same period the previous year, from two million to 4.3 million.

Andrey Kostin, senior Web content analyst at Kaspersky Lab, says phishing remains one of the most popular and easiest social engineering techniques to exploit online users.

He says phishing e-mails and Web sites are cunningly crafted to defy all but the closest scrutiny, and are usually driven by newsworthy events, or special holidays.

This year, cyber criminals exploited pre-order gift items and performance-enhancing drugs as a means to lure users into sharing their credentials. "This speaks to the findings of a Kaspersky Lab survey that showed when it comes to love, users tend to lose their vigilance."

Kostin says the company's research has shown phishing agents take any opportunity to exploit, be it major sporting events, fake payment bills or a more romantic pretext.

"They all just need to drive users' emotions, be it excitement, stress, or love. In this way, almost anything can become an attack tool in the cyber fraudsters' hands. The detected spike reminds us that we should always be cautious when surfing the Web, even if we are just buying flowers for our loved one."

Kaspersky advises users to keep their emotions in check when shopping online, and be wary of messages that demand immediate action, ask for vast amounts of very personal and seemingly irrelevant information, or which simply sound too good to be true.

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