Halloween is almost here and security experts are already warning web users, gamers and the general populace to be wary of spooky threats ranging from ghost cats to dodgy streams that could turn your computer into a zombie.
Thankfully, there’s a team of White Hats here to help you avoid falling victim to Halloween hackers. Here’s a breakdown of their forecasts of what haunting cyber threats might appear and advice on how to avoid them.
Related: Best VPNs for security and privacy
McAfee chief scientist and Fellow Raj Samani told Trusted Reviews that there’s a tradition of Halloween-related hacking campaigns.
“Despite being known for tricks and treats, Halloween isn’t a time you want to be tricked when it comes to your online security. This month has brought a range of cyber threats complete with ‘spooky’ names,” he said.
“For example, this year, Ghostcat Malware has been trying to haunt consumers. The goal is to hijack mobile browsing sessions and it begins when a user visits a particular website and faces a malicious ad. The malware then collects device information to consequently serve up a malicious URL linked to the ad. From this, the user is led to malicious content.”
He added that the firm expects to see further seasonal attacks appear this year, highlighting key trends like an increase in illegally streaming horror movies as another key danger.
“For thrill seekers grabbing popcorn and looking to watch a Halloween classic from the comfort of their own home, streaming online movies is a popular option for many … It is important to recognize that many illegal streaming sites could be hosting malicious content to infect your system,” he warned.
Samani was one of many experts warning users to be on guard for seasonal Halloween threats. F-Secure Tactical Defense Unit vice president Christine Bejerasco, told Trusted Reviews that knowing what the scariest hacker threat will be this Halloween is difficult, as the attacks are always changing.
“It is hard to gauge what is the worst threat targeting consumers because the threats are ever-changing and are responding to changes in the technological landscape,” she said.
“At the end of the day, it’s hard to gauge [what the worst threat will be this year]. I would personally think that banking trojans are particularly nasty because they go directly after your money. But for those whose data means money, then ransomware may just be as nasty.”
Kaspersky principal security researcher David Emm agreed with both experts, telling Trusted Reviews that hackers take advantage of Halloween in the same way they use any seasonal event.
“To be honest, when it comes to cybercrime, every day is ‘Halloween’ – in other words, while they might use dates, events, etc. as hooks for their phishing campaigns, they operate 24/7/365,” he said.
“Our virus lab analyses about a million objects every day. The vast majority of these are processed automatically. The threats we analyse include everything from sophisticated targeted attacks to the opportunist cybercrime that any consumer could fall prey to.”
Related: Best antivirus
Thankfully, most of these threats should be fairly easy to avoid.
“To avoid a threat like this haunting networks and devices, consumers must adopt safe-surfing habits all year round,” said Samani. “Consumers should approach unknown links with caution and remain wary of suspicious pop-ups, seasonal or otherwise. With many threats, such as Ghostcat, targeting mobile devices, you must ensure your mobile device is protected by your cybersecurity solution.”