Top cyber scams to look out for this summer

The summer months hold a treasure trove for cybercriminals wanting to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

The number of events that occur over the season provide the perfect opportunity for cybercriminals to target online users. Consumers are no longer just at risk of being scammed into handing over personal details – this year, there is also a higher risk of being hit by threats like ransomware.

With scams seemingly lurking behind every corner of the Internet, this can be a challenging time for both brands and consumers. As summer draws near, these are the top online scams that consumers need to watch out for:

The Olympics

The Rio Olympics will be one of the year’s largest sporting events and it’s anticipated that crafty cybercriminals will be capitalising on weaknesses in sporting fanatics’ online activity. With many Brits unable to make the journey to Rio de Janeiro to experience the Olympics first hand, they will be on the hunt for links to live stream the games and look to purchase official merchandise. Consumers therefore need to watch out for any kind of 'special offers' related to the Olympics and ensure they aren’t clicking any malicious links or handing over money for souvenirs from non-existent retailers.

UEFA EURO 2016

Sports events and phishing scams tend to go hand in hand. As the nation gears up for this year’s biggest footballing events, so will the cybercriminals that employ social engineering to exploit fans. With tickets to the biggest sporting fixtures usually being snapped up within days of release, dedicated football fans will be scouring the Internet for last minute or cheap tickets to ‘sold out’ games. Ticket scams are a scammer favourite, cybercriminals use this time to advertise ‘unmissable deals’ and exclusive tickets and demand payments without ever producing the goods. Consumers need to be mindful that it’s not always just discounted tickets, but things like VIP viewing packages, opportunities to meet the players can also be scams.

Lottery tickets

As our world is becoming more digital by the day, the traditional paper lottery ticket has also turned technical. For example, this summer all National Lottery tickets will now have QR codes to make it easier for lottery players to check whether they have won the jackpot on their smartphones. Cunning cybercriminals can take advantage of the increasingly digital processes, sending spoofed lottery emails in order to trick people into clicking malicious links or handing over financial details. It’s also expected that hopeful winners will be turning to email to check the results when they are out and about, providing yet another opportunity for a hacker to intercept with a phishing email.

The EU referendum

The impending EU referendum is a prime opportunity for opportunistic scammers. With the ability to vote now requiring online registration, it’s expected that cybercriminals will exploit this system and take the time to craft official looking emails containing potentially malicious links and attachments. To ensure legitimacy, it’s advised that readers hover over links before clicking to reveal the real domain name of the site.

Summer holidays

The travel industry is a prime target for cybercriminals, especially during the summer months. Travelers in particular need to protect themselves against email cyberattacks, these criminals are not just after financial details, but are also interested in the theft of consumers’ airline miles and hotel points. While these are trickier to monetise than direct financial information, it's much easier for criminals to get their hands on and are still worth something on the black market – especially if the hacking process can be automated. Just because a 'travel deal' doesn’t ask for financial details, it doesn’t mean it’s not a scam. Holidaymakers also need to be aware of opening emails on smart phones from suspicious sources as it is often easier to be fooled when less sender data is displayed and it is easy to click on links by mistake.

John Wilson, field CTO at Agari

Image Credit: Shutterstock / CobraCZ