Today, people are familiar with the common types of cybercrimes. Malware is the catch term that your system might have flashed for you at some point. In addition, individuals and organizations are at growing risk from malicious software, phishing scams, and ransomware.

Did you know?

  • 7 in 10 Indian firms were victims of ransomware attacks this year

  • Individual consumers are the top target for cybercriminals. By the quarter ended in 2021, cybercrimes targeting individuals increased by 73%

  • Malware accounted for 46% of the cybercrimes reported so far in 2022

With the spike in malware attacks, people have become more familiar with the issue. It is common to hear warnings like:

  • Do not open links with unknown domain names

  • Never share your bank details and OTP with online sellers

  • Ensure you have a strong password for your online accounts

  • Data encryption and data privacy strategy protects a business from ransomware attacks

Brands and individuals are looking at ways to protect themselves from phishing, domain proofing, and other online scams. But did you know that even your trusted software products can be a gateway for scammers?

Online scams are getting ingenious and destructive:

Malicious software can enter your devices in many ways. One recent issue is fake product keys.

Updating the system's software is important for smooth functioning. However, installing the latest version of Microsoft may not be an interesting activity. After all, there are many considerations before updating your software.

  • Is the update an absolute requirement?

  • Does the new software have more bugs?

  • Will the update slow down your device?

The usual method in online scams is to attack millions of people in a single attempt. But sometimes scammers send product keys and USBs through the post.

Here is the recent story of how scammers used Microsoft Office products to fraud customers via post:

Scammers sent out lookalike Microsoft office products in packages that seemed genuine. The package contained the product key and a USB engraved with the Microsoft logo. The process is simple:

  • People plug in the USB, hoping to install a Microsoft product. But instead, the USB hacks the device.

  • The users see a warning message on their screen about a possible virus attack.

  • The malicious software then prompts customers to call a fake customer support helpline for troubleshooting issues.

  • Once customers dial the helpline number, the process becomes a baiting scam. The fraudsters install malware on the user's device through remote access and take complete control.

It seems too much work for hacking a device, doesn't it? Experts agree that fake software products sent through the post are tedious. The fraudsters need to spend money on manufacturing lookalike packaging. Additionally, they must bear the courier charges. Also, someone needs to attend to the fake call centers. So, one might assume that the investment does not justify the small returns. But if you look at the other side, users may not believe someone would go through the trouble of sending a fake lookalike product key via post. So, people feel that the package must be genuine. 

Counterfeit product keys can install malware on your device via email links and other online sources. On clicking a dangerous link, the user may be redirected to a site that installs malware.

Fake anti-virus software: A scare tactic

Fake anti-virus software works mainly in two ways. In one method, the hackers will modify the original anti-virus software and make it malware. But fraudsters will build anti-virus software from scratch in a more elaborate way. You may wonder how someone can be naïve enough to install malware. Scammers scare users with a sense of urgency when it comes to anti-virus software installation. Did a pop-up warn you that your computer has been hacked? If so, then you must be worried but not act in haste—dodgy messages and links on the pop-up lead users to fake the anti-virus software installation process. Even clicking on the close button on the pop-up can be dangerous. 

Fake software is as astonishing as it is devastating:

It is astonishing because, despite awareness, it claims many victims every day. It is devastating because we literally live inside our devices. Our devices know everything about us, from banking details to personal photos and videos. Hacking poses a major privacy breach to brands and individuals. 

  • If an organization like banking or healthcare becomes a target of ransomware, it will lead to a major data breach. Due to such data breaches, customers can lose their valuables, privacy, and lives. Brands that cannot protect customer's data will stand to lose their reputation and image in the market

  • Junk software can be a gateway to more cybercrimes, malware, and viruses

  • The most common impact of malware is that it can slow down your system

  • Annoying lock-ups are the beginning of the problem. With malware, you are likely to see more pop-ups, strange toolbars, and other rogue processes

But people play an implicit role in the issue of fake software applications. Sometimes, the license for genuine software is expensive. We cannot deny that we all know of people who use Torrents or the Pirate Bay to download fake and cheap software. On the other hand, not many users are tech-savvy. Understanding and identifying malware is a challenge for people without the required know-how. Software companies are thus investing in building awareness about the issue, but customers, too, need to be alert. Remember, it most likely isn't the right software if something doesn't feel right about an installation!

Fake websites are also a popular way to scam people, to know more click here