Forget phishing scams, criminals are now using your everyday activities to steal from you

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According to a new study, for the first time ever, more attacks on computer systems are started through email, social media and mobile apps than through malicious software. 

Read more: Nearly half of IRS-approved free tax preparers fail cybersecurity audit

Email, social media and mobile apps now instigate more cyber crime

People for the most part have become wise to the Nigerian-style phishing emails that attempt to collect bank account information in a sad rescue plea. But, according to the report done by computer security company Proofpoint, scams coming through email and social media became a bigger threat than malicious software last year. Scamming that relies heavily on human interaction is called ‘social engineering.’ 

Kevin Epstein with Proofpoint says these emails can often be, ‘A very straightforward email that says, ‘your pizza is due to arrive at noon; to cancel, click here or call here.’ It’s a remarkably effective lure. A huge percentage of people click through on that,’ he said. 

He says over 2 billion malicious Android apps were downloaded through social media, and according to the report, malicious apps ‘heavily target the games and entertainment app categories.’

In addition, the report found that ‘40% of Facebook accounts and 20% of Twitter accounts claiming to represent a Fortune 100 brand are unauthorized.’ Phishing is 10 times more common than malware in social media posts. 

Most common times of day

Mr. Epstein warns that email campaigns often land between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. — most often on Tuesdays, but are also sent on Mondays and Wednesdays. 

As far as social media? Lunchtime and early afternoon is when the most social attacks hit. 

Study: When are you most vulnerable to cyber criminals?



What to do to protect yourself

Epstein warns people to heed the advice received as children to never talk to strangers — in person or online. 

‘If you see an email you weren’t expecting, add that extra degree of diligence before replying to it and certainly before clicking on anything in that email,’ he says. 

Read more: Warning: 3 Facebook scams you want to avoid

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