Fraud takes numerous forms, from lottery wins to emails from friends.

SCAMS are the hardest security threat to protect against because they rely on exploiting naivety more so  than technical flaws.

Always be suspicious of emails, faxes, text messages, instant messages and even phone calls from people you don’t know. Anything that sounds too good to be true probably is.

You didn’t really win a huge prize in a foreign lottery, get a massive unexpected tax return or inherit millions of dollars from a long-lost relative. A Nigerian businessman doesn’t need your help to smuggle money or gold.

Your potential online Russian bride doesn’t need money for her mother’s operation. Your bank will never send you an email asking you to change your password or confirm your account.

”Common sense can’t be your only defence online – but it certainly helps,” Trend Micro’s David Peterson says.

”Despite being around since the 1980s, the old Nigerian scam alone still sees Australians conned out of over $4 million every year.”

Telephone scams are also becoming more complicated, warns Nigel Hedges, of Kaspersky Lab Australia & New Zealand.

”Such calls claim to be from Microsoft or an information security company and claim they’ve identified malware on your computer. Some people are fooled into granting remote access to their computer via the internet and are charged to have non-existent malware removed.”

Also watch for spam emails taking advantage of current events to trick you into clicking on links. Some scams are designed to trick you into handing over money. Others attempt to install software on your computer to steal passwords and other sensitive information, such as banking details, security expert Lloyd Borrett warns.

”Every time there is a major, high-profile disaster somewhere on the planet, within hours we see the bad guys setting up fake charitable donation websites or services to help you to locate family members,” Borrett says. ”Security companies have the software solutions in place to protect people from technology-based attacks. But it’s really up to each and every one of us to be alert and aware of these sorts of social-engineering scams.”

You even need to be suspicious of messages from people you do know, Borrett says. If a friend sends you a Facebook message asking for money because they’re stuck overseas, it means their account has been hacked. Scammers are also prevalent in the virtual worlds of online gaming.

Be wary of in-game messages promising free gifts if you register at a bogus website.

Then there are messages from fake administrators, threatening account suspension if you don’t log into a bogus website & divulge your account details.

Along with these are ”duping” scams – players who claim they’ve found a bug that lets them duplicate precious items.

So you hand them your hard-earned magic sword, never to see it again.

The rise of social networks such as Facebook as gaming platforms has delivered a new community of people ripe to be scammed. FarmVille might seem safer than Azeroth but scammers still lurk in the dark shadows.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha