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Upcoming Presidential Election: Cyber Scammers Capitalizing on 2012 Election

The MS-ISAC today reminds users that because today is election day, voters are likely to see an increasing amount of emails from political candidates and campaign with respect to solicitation for political contributions as well as "getting out the vote" outreach efforts. It is important for all users to learn ways to discriminate phishing emails from legitimate emails.

Emails that claim to include video footage of the candidates doing something outrageous, questionable, or illegal are among the more popular tactics for scammers. Phishing emails routinely include links to videos where clicking on a link would direct you to a video, but before it started playing, a prompt would ask that you update Adobe Flash player. That "update," however, actually installs a virus or other malicious programs.

Phishing emails, intended to trick individuals by luring them to websites where they enter credit card and other confidential information, continue to be lucrative for cyber criminals around the world. According to the company RSA, for the first half of 2012, estimated worldwide losses from phishing attacks alone amounted to more than $687 million. Attack numbers averaged 32,581 per month - a 19 percent jump compared to the second half of 2011. (Source: http://blogs.rsa.com/rsafarl/phishing-in-season-a-look-at-online-fraud-in-2012/)

Phishing attacks also solicit personal information by posing as trustworthy organizations in specially crafted emails or websites. They tend to proliferate after major events that lead to increased charitable contributions (e.g., hurricanes, floods), and cyclical events (like presidential elections, holidays or tax day).

To avoid becoming a victim, the MS-ISAC recommends that you:

  • Do not respond directly to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, and do not click on links contained within those messages.
  • Never reveal personal or financial information in email.
  • Never respond to email solicitations for personal or financial information.
  • Never send sensitive information over the Internet before checking a website's security and confirming the legitimacy of the website. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net).
  • Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures or videos of the event in attached files because the files may contain viruses.

For More Information:

Better Business Bureau - Vote for a Scam Free Election Season

OnGuard Online - Phishing:

MS-ISAC Phishing Alert - Fake Traffic Tickets & False Credit Union Messages


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