Warning: More scammers targeting your cellphone

Consumer Report

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – By Friday, a lot of us will turn away from the turkey to the computer to start holiday shopping. But computer security experts warn that phishing scams are increasing.

“I think what’s really important for people to understand is that scammers capitalize on any possible pretext to make their attacks look convincing,” said Christoph Hebeisen, who is the director of Security Intelligence Research at Lookout, a company that, among other things, sells security apps for cell phones and other mobile devices.

It often starts with clicking an innocent-looking link you have received from a shopping site.

“It could be a fake link and it could take you to a very convincing-looking scam web page,” said Hebeisen.

He says scammers are still targeting your email — but now many are also moving to your cellphone.

“But I think the understanding that mobile devices are a target for hackers and scammers is certainly spreading and people are understanding that,” said Hebeisen.

He says scammers know how most people are now connected “at the hip” to that cellphone and that many consumers check their phones constantly.

Hebeisen warns that if you are asked to click on a link on a text message to just think twice. He says it’s easy to set up fake sites and people may think the link looks real.

But Hebeisen says the best way to avoid trouble is to just go directly to the shopping site yourself.

“So, it’s always a good idea not to follow the link in the message but to make your own way to the offer you are looking for,” he says.

He says there are ways to offer extra protection to keep you from making a mistake.

“You can use apps such as ours to basically act as an emergency stop when you accidentally click on the wrong link,” said Hebeisen.

For busy consumers, the most important thing to remember is that your phones are really being targeted now along with the home computer. Hebeisen says just make sure you have some kind of security protection on all devices you use to go online.

“When you drive a car you don’t want to just drive carefully, you always want a seat belt and an airbag. And I think the equivalent here would be to use security software,” said Hebeisen.

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