WhatsApp, Gmail and Outlook warning: why opening these messages can be costly?

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WhatsApp, Gmail and Outlook warning – DO NOT open these messages (Image: GETTY)

Do not open emails or WhatsApp messages without thinking carefully. That’s the stark new warning from Kaspersky’s cybersecurity team, which says 2021 will be another huge year for scammers.

Some of the biggest threats discovered in recent months have targeted cyber thieves’ email addresses who try to trick users with messages claiming that customs fees and shipping charges must be paid before items ordered online can be released.

Due to the pandemic, more of us than ever are ordering products online instead of going to our local high street and scammers trying to make money. Kaspersky says that these mailings often lead victims to a fake website, where they risk not only losing money but also sharing bank card details.

Another new threat that has recently been discovered is fake websites that offer people the opportunity to purchase undelivered parcels that cannot reach the intended recipients.

Such websites are set up as a lottery where users are unaware of the contents of the package. They bid based on the weight of the box in the hope that there is something of value in it. However, once the winning fee is paid, the package is never shipped and the person loses their money.

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In addition to scamming email addresses, WhatsApp users should also be on the lookout as the popular messaging platform is a hotbed for attacks.

During the early part of 2021, a number of scams were discovered on WhatsApp, including one asking users to complete a survey about WhatsApp and send messages to various contacts to receive a prize. Another stated that the users had already won a large prize – all they had to do to collect it was pay a small fee.

Users also received links to fake WhatsApp messenger apps, putting them at risk of downloading malware.

Speaking about the threats, Kaspersky’s Tatyana Shcherbakova said: “As in the past, we see attackers taking advantage of new trends and disruptions to steal money and credentials, whether that’s a growing number of messengers or an ongoing problem with email delivery. during a pandemic. Spam and phishing schemes are still some of the most effective ways to launch successful attacks because they play on human emotions. The best thing users can do is be wary of unexpected emails and be very careful about clicking any email attachments or links – go straight to the website.

If you are afraid of falling victim to these scams, here are Kaspersky’s tips for avoiding them:

• Check any links before clicking them. Hover over it to preview the URL and look for spelling errors or other irregularities.

• Even if there is a message or letter from one of your closest friends, remember that their accounts may also have been hacked. Be careful in any situation. Even if a message seems friendly, treat links and attachments with care.

• It is safe practice to check the sender’s address. Most spam comes from email addresses that don’t make sense or seem like gibberish, e.g. [email protected] or something similar. By hovering over the sender’s name, which itself may be misspelled, you can see the full email address. If you’re not sure whether an email address is legit or not, you can submit it to a search engine for verification.

• Think about what kind of information is being requested. Legitimate companies will not simply contact you via unsolicited emails to ask for personal information such as bank or credit card information, your social security number, and so on.

• Be wary if the message evokes a sense of urgency. Spammers often try to exert pressure by creating a sense of urgency. For example, the subject line might contain words like “urgent” or “immediate action required” – to pressure you to act.

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I work as the Content Writer for Gaming Ideology. I play Quake like professionally. I love to write about games and have been writing about them for two years.

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