Cybercriminals exploit brands to target potential victims

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Popular brand names and fake news stories used to snare unsuspecting internet users

Cybercriminals have been using high profile brand names and phrases likely to appeal to the curiosity of internet users to spread malware and viruses that can damage people’s systems, according to information gathered by GFI Software.

By taking advantage of trusted company names such as Google and Skype – or through linking to fictitious celebrity stories and event news – online criminals are able to tempt people to visit what they would ordinarily consider ‘safe’ websites.

However, rather than finding the page that they were expecting to, users are instead directed to sites that host malicious software.

Christopher Boyd, senior threat researcher at GFI Software, said: "Scammers prey on our curiosity and our reflex-like tendency to click on links and open emails that look like they’re coming from a company we know and trust."

Recent attacks have involved LinkedIn members falling victim to a virus designed to target banks and social media sites, with users receiving fake invitation reminders that served as the disguise for the Cridex Trojan.

And Google has also been exploited, with one online assault exposing people to rogue antivirus software that was masked as a program intended to protect their system.

Such malicious websites pose a threat to all web users both in the office and in the home, making sufficient protection integral to guarding against attacks that can infect networks and hard drives.

Some businesses may choose to have disaster recovery systems in place in the event of any viral infection infiltrating their employees’ computers, while data protection is also important to preventing malware from exposing a company’s records and files to criminals.

Given that cybercrime takes advantage of popular topics – more recently it has snared users with fictitious news surrounding one of the year’s most eagerly awaited games, Mass Effect 3 – internet users have been advised to be vigilant when clicking on any links that arouse their suspicions.

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