In the world of pop culture, nothing entices the public more than celebrity gossip. Search Google Trends on any given day, and famous sports figures, reality stars, singers and actors undoubtedly top the list of the most sought-after Internet topics. Sadly, the global appeal of celebrity serves as the ideal niche for eager hackers and cyber criminals looking to uncover personal information from unsuspecting celebrity inquirers. One such emergent trend in phishing scams targets the public fascination with celebrity scandal, as fabricated videos and newsfeeds tempt Internet users to access corrupted content containing viruses and other hacker material aimed at collecting personal information.
Last week, Rihanna joined the growing list of high-profile celebrities used in intricate phishing scams. This particular scam, working its way through Facebook, appears as an event inviting users to view a "Rihanna sex tape." Other such celebrity scams include Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift sex tape phishing exploits and fraudulent Twitter emails sent in the wake of famous user profile hacking incidents. These types of phishing scams lead to serious consequences for victims, as financial information, passwords and other personally identifiable information fall into the hands of hackers using viruses and information requests to obtain consumer data.
Fortunately, security experts from social media outlets and search engine heavyweights are working to prevent these types of scams or at least limit their harm to users. Twitter recently announced the use of Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC), also used by Google and Microsoft, to help validate authentic emails, and Facebook security experts hope to address the Rihanna scam by blocking posting links.
Despite the strong responses within the security community to address phishing scams, consumers also share in the responsibility to limit the reach of hackers and phishers. The following tips help consumers steer clear of phishing scams and protect their computers and personal information in the process:
• Avoid clicking on newsfeed links that lead to locations outside of the trusted website
• Do not access links provided from unknown individuals
• Stay up-to-date on recent phishing scams online through simple Internet searches
• Do not open emails from questionable sources
• Never provide personal information to obtain videos or download content from unauthenticated sources
Hackers may use public appeal to lure victims, but consumers may easily outsmart phishers by employing these and other basic security procedures.