How Target-Like Breaches Occur (P.S. More Are Expected)

Maybe you are among the 110 million Target shoppers whose payment card or personal information was hacked during the recent holiday shopping season. Perhaps you are one of the 1 million-plus Neiman Marcus customers whose data was exposed in a 2013 breach just recently announced. Been to Michael’s lately? The arts and crafts retailer is the latest well-known company whose customer payment details were reportedly stolen in the same type of data breach. How are con artists doing it - and which …

Cyber Scam Predictions for 2014

As the year closes, leading online security vendors are looking into their crystal balls – or rather, reviewing recent trends of trickery – to predict the top cyber scams of 2014. Some notables worth a mention: TVs watching you. Many traditionally “dumb” devices are getting “smarter” – televisions, gaming systems and even baby monitors are being connected to the Internet and often contain cameras or microphones. So, many cybercops predict them to be a magnet for attack, such as remote spying. …

Vicious New Malware Steals Files Forever

It’s always a good idea to back up your computer files. But now, it’s a great idea. An especially nasty form of “ransomware” – known as CryptoLocker – was recently discovered that puts computer users at risk of losing their files forever. Sign up for the AARP Money Matters newsletter In most forms of ransomware, infected computers freeze up and are essentially held hostage until a ransom is paid. One common scheme: False messages claiming to be from the FBI, accusing you …

Government Shutdown Scams – the Latest Gotcha

The federal government shutdown has created new opportunities for scammers to revise some tried-and-true schemes — they pose as employees of Uncle Sam at a time when the real ones are on furlough. Sign up for the AARP Money Matters newsletter Some examples: 1. Scammers call warning that because of the shutdown, you need to immediately re-enroll in Medicare or risk losing benefits. You may be asked for personal information that needs “verification” or you may be directed to a website …

When Danger Lurks in ‘Lily Collins’

Move over, Emma Watson. The new Malware Maven is fellow actress Lily Collins. The star of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Mirror, Mirror (and daughter of ’80s music icon Phil Collins) tops McAfee’s 2013 list of “Most Dangerous Celebrities”  to search for on the Web. Roughly one in seven online searches of her name – along with words such as “free downloads,” “nude pictures” and “apps” – landed computer users on websites that the security vendor says “tested positive” …

Beware: ‘Ransomware’ Is Now Attacking Macs

Cybercrooks have upped their game in the common “ransomware” scam, in which your screen displays a bogus FBI message accusing you of watching child pornography or another illegal online activity – and then freezes your computer until a “fine” is paid. Since last year, this scam has primarily targeted PC users. But now, the real FBI warns that the latest targets include Macs running the OSX operating system.  And there are additional campaigns against PCs in which other federal agencies …