McAfee Warns Consumers about Holiday Scams

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With the holiday season fast approaching, security vendor McAfee has released information about the “12 Scams of Christmas,” a list of what McAfee believes will be the most dangerous online scams of the holidays. Malware targeting mobile devices (particularly smartphones and tablets running Android) and social media threats topped the list, which was posted by McAfee's Gary Davis.

In his blog post, Davis points to a survey by the National Retail Federation that indicates more than 52% of American smartphone users will use their phones for holiday research and shopping. A McAfee survey reveals that there has been a 76% increase in "malware targeted at Android devices in the second quarter of 2011 over the first, making it the most targeted smartphone platform."

Phony promotions on Facebook and other social media platforms are also an ongoing risk, with items like fake giveaways for airline tickets and other gifts being commonly used by cybercriminals to lure unsuspecting consumers into revealing their banking details, credit card numbers, and other personal information.

Two particularly useful tips involve keeping an eye out for scams centered around delivery services like FedEx and UPS, as well as banks and other financial institutions. Davis describes these in additional detail in his post:

A common holiday phishing scam is a phony notice from UPS, saying you have a package and need to fill out an attached form to get it delivered. The form may ask for personal or financial details that will go straight into the hands of the cyberscammer...Banking phishing scams continue to be popular and the holiday season means consumers will be spending more money—and checking bank balances more often. From July to September of this year, McAfee Labs identified approximately 2,700 phishing URLs per day.

All of us know at least a few friends, family, and co-workers who tend to click first and think later, so all of these tips should be useful for someone. You can read the full text of the McAfee post here, which also includes the obligatory plug for McAfee security products at the end.

What are your thoughts on the holiday season and the latest round of security threats? Let me know what you think by adding a comment to this blog post or starting up a conversation on Twitter.

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