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Hackers use fake websites to dupe holiday shoppers

We've been hearing a lot about fake news spreading like wildfire across the internet this year. It was especially bad leading up to the presidential election.

There was so much fake news showing up on Facebook and Google that the companies started cracking down on sites that promote it. However, news isn't the only fake thing you need to be worried about.

Cybercriminals are now creating fake websites intended to look like the real thing. It's a practice known as typosquatting.

What scammers are doing is securing URLs that are similar to the real ones. For example, instead of youtube.com they could create a URL of yootube.com, slightly misspelling the original.

They're looking for victims who type the URL of the site they want to go to incorrectly, making it to the fake site. The criminal sets the fake site up to look very similar to the real one, hoping to get you to enter your credentials. In some cases, the phony sites are a base for distributing malware.

Essentially this is another sneaky version of a phishing scam. The criminal waits for someone to land on the fake site to steal their personal or financial information.

Avoiding phishing attacks

Criminals are always trying to stay ahead of the curve, delivering malicious links in numerous ways. Here are some things you can do to avoid being a victim of phishing scams:

  • Be cautious with links - If you get an email or notification from a site that you find suspicious, don't click on its links. It's better to type the website's address directly into a browser than clicking on a link. Before you ever click on a link, hover over it with your mouse to see where it is going to take you. If the destination isn't what the link claims, do not click on it.
  • Double check the URL spelling - When typing a URL into your browser, take the time to verify you're spelling it correctly. With typosquatting, misspelling a URL could lead to a phishing scam.
  • Watch for typos - Phishing scams are infamous for having typos. If you receive an email or notification from a reputable company, it should not contain typos. Before clicking on a link, hover over it and check for spelling. The safest move is to type the URL into your browser, with the correct spelling of course.
  • Use multi-level authentication - When available, you should be using multi-level authentication. This is when you have at least two forms of verification, such as a password and a security question before you log into any sensitive accounts.
  • Have strong security software - Having strong protection on your family's gadgets is very important. The best defense against digital threats is strong security software.


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Source: USA Today
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