Internet Scams:

Internet ScamBusters’ Predictions for the Top 10 Internet Scams in 2005: Internet ScamBusters™ #109

This is the most important issue we’ve written in awhile. Please do yourself a favor and read it carefully — and visit the pages we’ve linked to so you can read the articles you’ve missed.

Today’s topic is: The 10 Worst Internet Scams for 2005.

Today we’ll make some predictions for 2005 and highlight the 10 biggest scam trends you need to watch out for to stay safe in 2005.

Let’s get going…

Internet ScamBusters’ Predictions: What are the 10 Biggest
Internet Scams You Need to Watch Out for to Stay Safe in 2005?

2004 was a very big year for Internet scams, and most experts agree that 2005 will be even bigger.

Here are our (unscientific) predictions for the 10 top Internet scams and online threats for 2005:

Internet ScamBusters’ Top 10 Scams for 2005:

10. New job postings threats. It used to be that the big dangers of posting your resume online were that your boss would see it, that your resume would get ignored, or that it would wind up in places you didn’t want.

Not anymore. Although these concerns are still important, identity theft and stalking have become much bigger problems for job seekers over the past several years. After all, a lot of very personal information is included in resumes.

We predict that this will become an even bigger problem in 2005, as info from job postings are matched more cleverly with direct mail, marketing, and other demographic lists.

9. New, more ‘creative’ variants of the Nigerian scam.
Widespread Nigerian scams that targeted clergy were the biggest innovation over the past year and a half. You can read about these email scams here.

We predict that many new — and even more creative — variants will emerge in 2005.

8. Sale of vehicles on auction sites and elsewhere. The single biggest question we got asked throughout most of 2004 was: “I’m selling (or buying) a car, truck, or boat online, and I just got an international offer, but I’m not sure if it’s legitimate.”

The answer was simple: no, it was not legitimate. You can read about this scam here.

We predict many new ‘imaginative’ variants of this scam in 2005. For example, we heard about this scam being applied to the sale of horses at the end of 2004!

7. New threats to mobile devices. Many mobile devices such as cell phones have security holes. Although there are few viruses, etc. for these devices today, we expect to see a huge rise in these problems in 2005.

In fact, smarter cell phones will have more problems. If your cell phone contains your contact info — and especially your financial info (like bank account numbers, passwords, and credit card numbers) — you will be especially at risk.

6. New lottery scams
. Lottery scams, especially international lottery scams, were a huge problem in the second half of 2004. Here’s an example of a lottery scam.

We predict even more inventive variants in 2005.

5. More personal and targeted attacks. In the past, viruses, trojans, worms, etc. were generally random and scattered. In 2004, MessageLabs began to see a real increase in these attacks, as well as denial of service attack threats and blackmail attempts, against specific individuals, organizations, or small groups of websites.

For example, according to MessageLabs, some online gambling sites were blackmailed with a denial of service attack if they didn’t pay the perpetrators.

We predict that thieves will get more sophisticated this year and tailor their threats to have a greater impact on specific individuals and organizations.

4. New, more dangerous viruses, worms, and trojans. There is no doubt that viruses, worms, and trojans are spreading a lot faster now and virus writers are getting smarter.

For example, according to Symantec Corp., there was a 400% increase in new Internet worm variants the first six months of 2004 compared to the same period the year before. You can read about viruses and virus hoaxes here.

We predict that some viruses in 2005 will target firewalls, antivirus and anti-spyware programs, with the goal of disabling them. So, be prepared to consider purchasing a hardware firewall in 2005.

3. New spyware threats. Spyware, adware, help objects, and malware are now one of the biggest security threats. Visit our Internet ScamBusters Anti Spyware Resource Center.

Since recent studies have shown that even the best spyware blockers and cleaners are not very effective in eliminating a good deal of spyware, we predict that more and more clever and difficult-to-find-and-remove spyware will be created in 2005.

2. More sophisticated phishing scams.
The growth of phishing scams was one of the two big scam stories in 2004. If you’re not familiar with phishing scams, click here.

According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, there was an eight-fold increase from 1,422 kinds of phishing attacks in June 2004, compared to 176 attacks in January. MessageLabs saw a 13-fold increase in phishing emails between January and November 2004.

Phishing scams are getting incredibly sophisticated. With all our expertise in phishing scams, we almost got taken in one instance recently! There is no question that these phishing email scams will get even more sophisticated in 2004.

Further, email phishing scams that make too-good-to-be-true offers will grow fast in 2005. For example, scammers will offer software at extremely low prices simply to get your credit card and delivery details — they don’t care what the price is since they don’t intend to deliver any software anyway.

1. Bigger identity theft problems. Identity theft was the largest security issue in 2004, and it will most likely grow even faster in 2005.

Spyware, viruses, trojans, worms, phishing, and other spaham are all used to commit identity theft. To learn about why identity theft is such a huge problem, visit these two pages on identity theft (ID theft).

For example, one growing problem is keystroke loggers, also called keyloggers. A keystroke logger is a hardware device or software program that monitors each keystroke a user types on the keyboard. This information can then easily be transmitted to a scammer, who then has access to user names, passwords, and other confidential information.

Keyloggers are installed on personal computers via hardware or software. Software keyloggers are installed via viruses, worms, trojans, and spyware. Hardware keyloggers can be installed in ATM machines, on gas pumps, etc. collecting credit card and bank info, as well as passwords and PIN numbers.

Different identity theft schemes will grow more sophisticated in 2005. Plus, personal information stolen via phishing and other types of scams will spread even more rapidly via sophisticated international hacker networks.

Now that we’ve warned you of all of these growing dangers, please remember that if you don’t ever respond to spam, the vast majority of your online experience will be safe. Our mission is to help you understand the trends so you can protect yourself and stay safe.