Site educates on holiday-themed online threats

Antivirus vendor AVG creates a site devoted to educating users on the risks of opening holiday-themed e-mail.

Did your brother-in-law really send you a singing holiday card? Did a long-lost friend from college really include you on this year's list?

One inexpensive way to send holiday cheer may be to send e-cards, but security vendor AVG warned on Tuesday that online criminals are taking advantage of the fact most people don't know the difference between a legitimate e-card and one hosting malware.

Last week security vendors warned of a Trojan horse masquerading as holiday-themed e-cards from McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and Hallmark.

To better educate the public, AVG has launched a site, "Slam the Holiday Scam,", co-sponsored with CyberStreetSmart.org and i-Safeworking, and is working to team with various online safety organizations such as the National Crime Prevention Council, the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, CyberStreetSmart.org, i-Safe, the National Cyber Security Alliance, and Consumers Union, and Protection from Brand Infection.

The tips, which should be familiar to most online users, include:

  • Don't open attachments because most legitimate e-cards include links to the company's Web site that allow you to go directly to your card.
  • If something looks a little strange or "phishy" just delete the card.
  • Use security software on your desktop.
  • Watch out for misspelled words or names, a disguised name (such as Your Friend, A Secret Admirer), or an odd URL.
  • Always read the fine print before accepting any terms.
Also on the site is a free 90-day trial of AVG Internet Security, which includes antivirus, antispyware, and antirootkit protection plus a personal firewall and Linkscanner protection against malicious Web sites.
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Security
About the author

    As CNET's former resident security expert, Robert Vamosi has been interviewed on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets to share his knowledge about the latest online threats and to offer advice on personal and corporate security.

     

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