Social engineering to increase in 2015, here’s what you can do

What will scammers be looking at when it comes to security this year? It turns out finding a way into your social circle will be big in 2015, as Trend Micro clues us in to the importance of safety online this year.

By now you’re probably familiar with how necessary internet security is, and if you’re not, well, you probably should be. Just like how we need to eat, we need to keep our data and digital lives secure, and so internet security is one of those things that every digital live should have in some form of another.

But while many of us are aware of the necessity that is security software, some are still clicking on things they shouldn’t be, with Trend Micro reporting on 2014’s threat landscape with a note that Australians clicked on over 140 million malicious URLs, 7 million of which were hosted in Australia.

According to Trend, Australians receive a lot of online banking threats, and some of us are even clicking on these links, which isn’t good.

But there is some good news, and that is that spam is decreasing.

Sure, you might receive the odd viagra email here and there, and we’re sue Google Mail and Outlook are doing their best at hiding what you get, but spam is on the decrease.

Unfortunately, social engineering is going up, and according to Trend, this is the most effective way for a cybercriminal to get someone to click on a link.

“Malware is increasingly being delivered in new ways,” said Trend Micro’s Tim Falinksi, Consumer Director for the company in Australia and New Zealand, adding “particularly via mobile devices, making Australian consumers more vulnerable to web-based attacks.”

“Cybercriminals have greater opportunity to thrive as they evolve their attacks, moving closer to homes and individuals through mobile technology,” he said. “With the number of cyber threats increasing each year, remaining vigilant and safe online in 2015 should be on every Australian’s list of new year’s resolutions.”

Yes, mobiles will be one of the big areas where scams will take place, preying on the likelihood that you won’t be able to check if a scam email is authentic, and hoping you’ll click, be confused, and enter in those login details to be used against you at a later time.

Social engineering is also bound to be a problem, no doubt because it takes advantage of common topics on social networks to get you to click. According to Trend Micro, last year saw social engineering scams take advantage of the Apple iPhone 6 launch and FIFA’s World Cup, getting people to click on links that downloaded malware.

This year, Trend expects social engineering to target Australians through the Cricket World Cup, Rugby World Cup, the new Star Wars movie, and Taylor Swift’s Australian tour.

So what should you do to stay alert and aware of what’s going on, especially when it comes to security and how it affects you and your family?

According to Falinski, it’s important to know that the threat landscape has moved beyond the laptop and desktop space, with security affecting all devices, including Android and iOS based gadgets.

“Malware creators are following the money trail,” said Falinski. “Given the complexity of mobile threats, users need to develop safer mobile habits this year. These include the use of secure password managers, the installation of a security app to scan for mobile malware and a personal effort to remain aware of the latest in mobile threats.

“In terms of threats, privacy and identity theft are two that are important. Kids use social media frequently and download many apps, and these are two activities can provide easy access to personal information unwillingly. We all need to remember what we post online stays there forever.”

Given this information, it’s probably wise to talk to your kids and make it a family matter, discussing what should be given out and what shouldn’t, while also talking about any apps they might be installing. It is also likely worth a talk if anyone encounters links or emails they don’t recognise.

Beyond this, installing some form of security on phones, tablets, and computers is a must have, making sure the device at least has some protection on it to help limit any potential problems if they ever arise.