4 Valentine’s season cyberthreats to watch out for

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Love is in the air — and so are cyberthreats. As wallets open wide for Valentine’s Day gifts, cybercriminals see an opportunity to cash in. But you don’t have to be a victim.

Avoid a broken heart and a drained bank account this love month by watching out for these four Valentine’s season cyberthreats.

1. Fake promotional emails

Cybercriminals love using this tactic around high spending seasons because they know that online shoppers are hunting for deals to buy gifts for their loved ones. They flood inboxes with fake promotional emails claiming to be from large retailers with promises of gifts and discounts. These emails are often riddled with malware or links to malicious sites, which look similar to the official websites of the companies the cybercriminals are impersonating.

It can be tricky to spot these phony emails, especially since legitimate vendors are also likely flooding your inbox with genuine promotional messages. Here’s how to stay safe from such emails:

  • Double-check sender details: Scrutinize the sender’s address for misspellings or odd domains. Real companies use their own domain (e.g., “@amazon.com,” not “@amaz0n.com”).
  • Hover over, don’t click: Don’t click suspicious links directly. Instead, hover your mouse over them to see the actual URL they lead to. Does it match the displayed text and the sender’s domain?
  • Look for poor grammar and formatting: While typos can happen, multiple errors are often a red flag.
Read also: How implementing effective cybersecurity measures boosts productivity

2. Fake admirer scams

For single people, it’s natural to feel a bit lonely around this time of year, especially since companies try to play up Valentine’s season’s importance to drum up sales. Cybercriminals know this, so they ramp up their fake admirer scams — also known as catfishing. In these scams, cybercriminals pose  as a potential romantic partner for their target, usually by sending messages over social media, forging a relationship based on lies, and trying to trick their victim into sending money, revealing sensitive information, or clicking on malicious links.

To avoid falling for fake admirer scams, it’s best not to talk with people you have not met (in person or digitally) over social media. If you do, however, don’t ignore red flags such as a lack of a profile picture or one taken from elsewhere. You can do a Google reverse image search to determine if a profile pic is genuine. Also, be wary of admirers who are pushy, make strange requests soon after making contact, or make inappropriate comments. Cybercriminals are now using chatbots to carry out these scams, so if you feel like you are talking to an AI, you just might be.

3. Family and friends phishing

While sending eCards and festive emails is common during love month, it’s also when cybercriminals ramp up their tricks. Through various means, they might be able to acquire your contact lists, possibly by hacking databases or exploiting vulnerabilities in your email. Then, using the names of people on your contacts or friends list, they may send you phishing emails that appear like regular greetings from friends or family but actually contain malware or links to malicious websites.

Stay safe from phishing by being on the lookout for strangely worded emails from acquaintances asking you to go to odd sites or download attachments. Also, check the sender’s address carefully to see if it is their usual email address, as small deviations will prove it is fake.

Read also: 4 Common types of phishing attacks

4. Impostor websites

An impostor website is designed to look like a legitimate website but is, in fact, a trap that spreads malware or captures sensitive information such as credit card numbers. Much like fake emails, impostor websites mimic the appearance of a real website but can have spelling errors, broken links, strange wording, and suspicious downloads that reveal their true nature.

Around Valentine’s Day, there is a noticeable uptick in domains registered with related words like “Valentine” or “love.” Cybercriminals attach these words to the names of well-known websites to trap unwitting visitors. To stay safe, follow these tips: 

  • Double-check the URL: Don’t trust shortened links or rely solely on email addresses. Look closely at the full website address before clicking on a link. Does it match the real brand’s website exactly? Even a tiny difference can be a red flag.
  • Ensure a secure connection: Look for the padlock symbol in your browser and ensure the address starts with “https://”. This indicates a secure, encrypted connection protecting your information.
  • Think before you click: Don’t rush into entering personal details or making purchases, especially on unfamiliar websites. Check customer reviews and the company’s legitimacy before proceeding.

SpectrumWise offers comprehensive cybersecurity services to keep your business safe from cyberthreats not just on Valentine’s season, but all year round. Schedule a consultation with us today.


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