Tips to Avoid Common April Fools’ Day Scams
April Fools’ Day is a time of hoaxes and practical jokes. Although you might enjoy the opportunity to trick your family, friends and co-workers, don’t let your guard down when it comes to online threats. This April 1st cybercriminals are sure to be in on the action, but their motives are not mere fun and games.
Cybercrime rates spike during any holiday, major event or media story (link to article cybercrime and major events) because these happenings offer prime opportunities to run a variety of schemes – from phishing attacks to infecting computers with malware. April Fools’ Day is no exception. Every year at this time, there’s a surge of spam emails and spyware infections. Adding to the frustration, this year internet security experts predict that cybercriminals will also target social networking sites.
Reporters have already linked one April Fools’ Day scam to social networks. At the beginning of March, The East Texan, the student newspaper at Texas A&M University-Commerce, received a bogus email claiming that Facebook would start charging users on April 1. The email directed recipients to a fake protest webpage that was infected with malware.
Other common scams include April Fools’ Day-themed emails containing commonly searched images from Google. To protect yourself from online threats this April 1st, follow these security tips:
- Don’t open any emails, files or attachments from unknown sources
- Exercise caution even when opening emails and attachments from people you do know
- Always think before you click and avoid unknown websites
- Know what kind of antivirus software you have and don’t be fooled by “scareware” tactics (link to glossary or article about scareware)
- Keep your antivirus software up-to-date, install all updates to your operating system and make sure that all security patches are updated for your internet browser