Avoid these three creepy cyber tricks on Halloween

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Cybercriminals can send phishing emails on anything Halloween related. (WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)
Cybercriminals can send phishing emails on anything Halloween related. (WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)

Halloween is just around the corner — parents know it, children know it and cybercriminals know, it too.

Many of us have fond, although sometimes creepy, memories of Halloween.

It is the one night when children and grown-ups can walk the streets dressed in costume, munch on candy and greet neighbors with “trick-or-treat!”

That sense of safety is what cybercriminals are tapping into when they try to “trick” us into falling for some of the most common online scams.

Three of their tricks include phishing, smishing and vhishing.

Cybercriminals can send phishing emails on anything Halloween related: invitations to parties, discounts on this year’s creepiest costumes and even fun videos of cats in Frankenstein’s monster outfits. These emails can be anything that makes us want to click on a link, open an attached file or visit a website.

We are cautious of these phishing emails the entire year, and Halloween should not be an exception.

When in doubt, do not click.

Smishing, a form of phishing, is when someone tries to trick you into giving them your private information via a text or SMS message.

Many of us belong to group chats, whether they are related to school or our neighborhood or other “trusted groups.”

It only takes one compromised cell phone account or spoofed phone number for a cybercriminal to compromise an entire group chat.

If you are in doubt someone you know actually sent an SMS – verify by calling.

Vhishing, another form of phishing, is when someone calls or leaves a voice message for the purpose of obtaining your private personal and financial information.

Vhishing cybercriminals give a false sense of urgency in order to make us act in haste; like the costume you ordered that needs another credit card number, or a misdelivered package that needs your real address, or a discount coupon you need to claim using your email address and date of birth.

If you feel you are being rushed to act, slow down and be cautious – that is exactly what the vhishing criminals don’t want you to do.

Halloween is supposed to be creepy and fun for both kids and grown-ups. We need to be vigilant to make sure those cybercriminals do not spoil it with their dirty tricks.

C. Ariel Pinto is associate professor of engineering management & systems engineering at Old Dominion University.

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