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Guarding Against Festive-Themed Malware Scams: A Comprehensive Guide

Festive-Themed Malware Scams
Guarding Against Festive-Themed Malware Scams: What every Organisation in Singapore should know.

Guarding Against Festive-Themed Malware Scams: A Comprehensive Guide

As the festive season approaches, so does the heightened risk of falling victim to cybercriminals leveraging attractive deals and offers.

Festive-themed malware scams are on the rise, with cybercriminals exploiting the joyous atmosphere to trick users into downloading malicious applications or disclosing personal data.

This article provides an in-depth understanding of festive-themed malware scams and offers practical tips on how to safeguard yourself during this celebratory period.

Understanding Festive-Themed Malware Scams

Cybercriminals often distribute malware through advertisements featuring festive-related offers, such as holiday deals, food products, electronic appliances, event tickets, and electronic gift cards. Impersonating legitimate entities, these scammers place enticing ads on social media platforms, luring unsuspecting victims into downloading malicious apps that can compromise their devices.

As the festive season approaches, so does the heightened risk of falling victim to cybercriminals.

Modus Operandi of Festive-Themed Malware Scams

  • Advertisement Distribution: Cybercriminals promote attractive festive offers through emails, text messages, or social media platforms.
  • Clicking on Links: Clicking on links in emails or messages may lead to the download of malicious software, compromising your device.
  • Malware Activities: Once installed, cybercriminals can engage in various malicious activities, including keylogging, remote access to your screen and camera, and stealing personal details, including Internet banking account information.

Protecting Yourself Against Malware Scams

Stay vigilant and take proactive steps to protect yourself during the festive season. Here are crucial measures to implement:

  • Enhance Device Security:
    • Add anti-virus/anti-malware apps to your device and conduct regular scans.
    • Promptly update your device’s operating systems and apps to benefit from the latest security patches.
    • Disable “Install Unknown App” or “Unknown Sources” in your phone settings.
    • Avoid downloading suspicious software/apps from messenger apps, third-party websites, or emails.
  • Verify App Source and Permissions:
    • Download apps only from official app stores like Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
    • Exercise caution when granting permissions, especially “accessibility” permissions that may allow scammers to control your device remotely.
    • Check developer information, number of downloads, and user reviews to ensure an app’s legitimacy.
  • Authenticate Advertisements/Emails/Messages:
    • Verify the authenticity of advertisements with organizations through official sources.
    • Be cautious of suspicious emails/messages; verify with organizations through official sources before clicking any links or downloading attachments.
  • Secure Online Purchases/Transactions:
    • Avoid making online purchases or accessing sensitive information on public Wi-Fi networks.
    • Use secure websites with HTTPS when shopping online; avoid websites that do not support HTTPS.
    • Use secure payment methods like credit cards or trusted digital wallets; avoid unconventional methods like gift cards and cryptocurrency.
  • Secure Your Online Accounts:
    • Use strong passphrases; change passwords if you suspect an account compromise.
    • Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) or Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) whenever possible for an added layer of security.
  • Report Suspicious Activities:
    • Pause and consult with family or friends if unsure; contact the Anti-Scam Helpline at 1800-722-6688.
    • Report any fraudulent transactions to your bank immediately.
Festive-themed malware scams are on the rise, with cybercriminals exploiting the joyous atmosphere to trick users into downloading malicious applications

What to Do If Your Device Is Compromised

If you suspect a malicious app has been downloaded:

  • Disconnect your device from the internet.
  • Check for suspicious apps and uninstall them.
  • Install a reputable anti-virus app and scan for malicious apps.
  • Check your accounts for unauthorized transactions; change passwords.
  • Monitor accounts for unusual activity.
  • Report unauthorized transactions to relevant authorities and lodge a report with the Police and SingCERT.
  • If difficulties persist, consider performing a data backup and “factory reset” on your device.

As you celebrate the festive season, ensure your digital presence remains secure. Stay informed, follow the provided guidelines, and take immediate action if you suspect any malicious activity.

How a DPO can help

Your appointed DPO can work with you on your PDPA compliance, ensuring that there will be policies in place to make sure that the handling of personal data is PDPA compliant. 

A Data Protection Officer (DPO) oversees data protection responsibilities and ensures that organisations comply with the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). Furthermore, every Organisation’s DPO should be able to curb any instances of PDPA noncompliance as it is the officer responsible for maintaining the positive posture of an organisation’s cybersecurity.

DPOs complement organisations’ efforts to ensure that the organisation’s methods of collecting personal data comply with the PDPA. It also ensures that policies are set in place to make sure that there will be no instances of data breaches in the future.

Don’t wait any longer to ensure your organisation is PDPA compliant. Take our free 3-minute PDPA Compliance Self-audit checklist now, the same “secret weapon” used by our clients to keep them on track. Upon completion, we will send you the results so you can take the necessary action to protect your customers’ data. Complete the free assessment checklist today and take the first step towards protecting your customers’ personal data.



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