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Different fraud tactics all share the same goal: to obtain your personal, confidential and financial information for fraudulent use.
From obtaining your information ‘the old fashioned way’ via discarded mail, to emails that ask you to verify personal information under the guise of a trusted source ― like your financial institution ― fraudulent activity comes in many different forms.
Adware: Software that displays advertising content on your computer. Like its cousin spyware, some adware runs with your full knowledge and consent, some doesn’t. More often an annoyance than a security risk, adware may also monitor browsing activities and relay that information to someone else over the Internet.
Bot or Web bot: Derived from “robot.” An automated program, such as a Web crawler, that performs or simulates human actions on the Internet. Used for legitimate purposes by search engines, instant message (IM) programs, and other Internet services. Web bot can also be used to take control of computers, launch attacks, and compromise data; may act as part of a blended threat.
Botnet or Zombie Armies: A group of computers that have been compromised and brought under the control of an individual. The individual uses malware installed on the compromised computers to launch denial-of-service attacks, send spam, or perpetrate other malicious acts.
Denial-of-Service (DoS). An attack on a computer or network in which bandwidth is flooded or resources are overloaded to the point where the computer or network’s services are unavailable to clients. Can also be carried out by malicious code that simply shuts down resources
Dumpster Diving: Thieves rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper that includes your personal information.
Keylogger: Software that monitors and captures everything a user types into a computer keyboard. Used for technical support and surveillance purposes. Can also be integrated into malware and used to gather passwords, user names, and other private information.
Malware: Also known as ‘malicious software’, malware is designed to harm, attack or take unauthorized control over a computer system. Malware includes viruses, worms,Trojan horses,some keyloggers, spyware, adware and bots. It’s important to know that Malware can include a combination of the types noted.
Pharming: Pharming takes place when you type in a valid Web address and you are illegally redirected to a Web site that is not legitimate. These ‘fake’ Web sites ask for personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security numbers and other sensitive information.
Phishing: A scam that involves the use of replicas of existing Web pages to try to deceive you into entering personal, financial or password data. Often suspects use urgency or scare tactics, such as threats to close accounts.
Pop-Ups: A form of Web advertising that appears as a “pop-up” on a computer screen, pop-ups are intended to increase Web traffic or capture email addresses. However, sometimes pop-up ads are designed with malicious intent like when they appear as a request for personal information from a financial institution, for example.
RetroVirus: This virus specifically targets your computer defenses. It will look for vulnerabilities within your computer operating system or any third party security software. Most security vendors have some form of tamper-proof measure in place, so it is important to keep your patches up-to-date. Retro Viruses are usually combined with another form of attack.
Social engineering: A method of deceiving users into divulging private information, social engineering takes advantage of our natural tendency to trust one another rather than rely solely on technological means to steal information. Often associated with phishing, pharming, spam, and other Internet-based scams.
Spam: Unsolicited email, usually sent in bulk to a large number of random accounts; often contains ads for products or services. Also used in phishing scams and other online fraud. Can be minimized using email filtering software.
Spim or Instant Spam: Unsolicited instant messages, usually sent in bulk to a large number of IM accounts; often contain marketing materials and links to product Web pages. May also be used in phishing scams or to spread malware. See also, spam.
Spoofing: Spoofing is when an attacker masquerades as someone else by providing false data. Phishing has become the most common form of Web page spoofing. Another form of spoofing is URL spoofing. This happens when an attacker exploits bugs in your Web browser in order to display incorrect URLs in your browser location bar. Another form of spoofing is called “man-in-the-middle”. This occurs when an attacker compromises the communication between you and another party on the Internet. Many firewalls can be updated or configured to significantly prevent this type of attack.
Spyware: Loaded on to your computer unbeknownst to you, spyware is a type of program that watches what users do and forwards information to someone else. It is most often installed when you download free software on the Internet. Unfortunately hackers discovered this to be an effective means of sending sensitive information over the Internet. Moreover, they discovered that many free applications that use spyware for marketing purposes could be found on your machine, and attackers often use this existing spyware for their malicious means.
Trojans: A Trojan is malicious code that is disguised or hidden within another program that appears to be safe (as in the myth of the Trojan horse). When the program is executed, the Trojan allows attackers to gain unauthorized access to the computer in order to steal information and cause harm. Trojans commonly spread through email attachments and Internet downloads. A common Trojan component is a “keystroke logger” which captures a user’s keystrokes in an attempt to capture the user’s credentials. It will then send those credentials to the attacker.
Virus: A computer virus is a malicious program that attaches itself to and infects other software applications and files without the user’s knowledge, disrupting computer operations. Viruses can carry what is known as a “payload,” executable scripts designed to damage, delete or steal information from a computer.
A virus is a self-replicating program, meaning it copies itself. Typically, a virus only infects a computer and begins replicating when the user executes the program or opens an “infected” file.
Viruses spread from computer to computer only when users unknowingly share “infected” files. For example, viruses are commonly spread when users send emails with infected documents attached.
Vishing: Vishing is a type of phishing attack where the attacker uses a local phone number in the fake email as a means of obtaining your sensitive information. The goal is to fool you into believing the email is legitimate by instructing you that responding to the request by phone is safer than responding by email and shows authenticity. The unsuspecting caller is then tricked through an automated phone system to relinquish their sensitive information.
Worm: A worm is similar to a virus but with an added, dangerous element. Like a virus, a worm can make copies of itself; however, a worm does not need to attach itself to other programs and it does not require a person to send it along to other computers.
Worms are powerful malware programs because they cannot only copy themselves; they can also execute and spread themselves rapidly across a network without any help.