Thursday, July 17, 2014

Crooks & Spammers Make Super Heroes Toxic for Online Security & Privacy

It's a Bird, it's a plane ... it's malware?! That's not Superman! Unfortunately many of the people searching for information about "the man of steel" online are instead finding malware that steals their sensitive personal and/or financial information.  For those of you who don't know what malware is, it is malicious software that secretly infects a computer or mobile device to exploit it for someone else's gain without your consent.  Often times people are lured to fake sites that use popular trendy topics, like SUPER HEROES, to draw people in from search engine searches or advertisements posted in social media, blogs, e-mails, and other online communications mediums. Once people visit these sites there are variety of  methods that download malware or viruses onto devices in a manner that can leave you unsuspecting an intrusion.

McAfee, a computer security company for consumers and businesses, recently released a study of the Most Toxic Super Heroes that analyzed which comic book character names led to the most risky websites.   SUPERMAN was at the top of the list!  According to McAfee, searching through sites such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing with phrases such as "Superman," "Superman and free torrent download," Superman and watch," "Superman and free app," and "Superman and online" leads to a 16.5% chance of connecting with a website that has tested positive for online threats such as spyware, adware, spam, phising, viruses and other malware.  Superman is 2014's most toxic super hero meaning his name is the most likely to lead you to a website that has tested positive for threats by McAfee Site Advisor.  

Here is the list of top Super Hero names that Cyber Criminals are using to victimize people with the percentage of times the McAfee study was directed to a dangerous website for each name:

1.  SUPERMAN                       16.5%
2.  THOR                                 16.3%
3.   WONDERWOMAN          15.7%
      AQUAMAN                       15.7%
4.  WOLVERINE                     15.1%
5. SPIDERMAN                       14.7%
6. BATMAN                             14.2%
7.BLACK WIDOW                  13.7%
8.CAPTAIN AMERICA            13.1%
9. GREEN LANTERN              11.3%
10. GHOST RIDER                   10.8%

These might not seem like that high of numbers to worry about, but just think it takes a cyber criminal just one time to get access to your Social Security Number, Bank Account, or Credit Card to create havoc in your life.  So whatever you can do to be proactive in protecting yourself is important because once you are compromised it is often game over!

Here are a few tips from McAfee Online Security Expert Robert Siciliano, author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen:
  • Be suspicious: If a search turns up a link to free content or too-good-to-be-true offers, be wary
  • Double-check the web address: Look for misspellings or other clues that the site you are going to may not be safe 
  • Search safely: Use a web safety advisor, such as McAfee SiteAdvisor that displays a red, yellow, or green ratings in search results, alerting you to potential risky sites before you click on them
  • Protect yourself: Use comprehensive security software on all your devices, like McAfee LiveSafe™ service, to protect yourself against the latest threats

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