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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 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,, 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.