Since the winter holidays are quickly approaching, US-CERT is republishing this entry to increase awareness about phishing scams and malware campaigns.
In the past, US-CERT has received reports of an increased number of phishing scams and malware campaigns that take advantage of the winter holidays and holiday shopping season. Users who are new to making seasonal online purchases are encouraged to take care and use safe online shopping habits. US-CERT reminds users to remain cautious when receiving unsolicited email messages that could be part of a potential phishing scam or malware campaign.
These phishing scams and malware campaigns may include but are not limited to the following:
- electronic greeting cards that may contain malware
- requests for charitable contributions that may be phishing scams and may originate from illegitimate sources claiming to be charities
- screensavers or other forms of media that may contain malware
- credit card applications that may be phishing scams or identity theft attempts
- online shopping advertisements that may be phishing scams or identity theft attempts from bogus retailers
US-CERT encourages users and administrators to use caution when encountering these types of email messages and take the following preventative measures to protect themselves from phishing scams and malware campaigns:
- Refer to the Shopping Safely Online Cyber Security Tip for more information on online shopping safety.
- Do not follow unsolicited web links in email messages.
- Use caution when opening email attachments. Refer to the Using Caution with Email Attachments Cyber Security Tip for more information on safely handling email attachments.
- Maintain up-to-date antivirus software.
- Review the Federal Trade Commission's Charity Checklist.
- Verify charity authenticity through a trusted contact number. Trusted contact information can be found on the Better Business Bureau's National Charity Report Index.
- Refer to the Recognizing and Avoiding Email Scams (pdf) document for more information on avoiding email scams.
- Refer to the Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks Cyber Security Tip for more information on social engineering attacks.