Gmail and Outlook users placed on red alert this weekend – delete these emails now

Brits are being warned to stay vigilant when checking their Gmail and Outlook email inboxes as the year draws to a close, as the UK could be subjected to an extra 10 million online threats this Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – and AI might be to blame.

That’s according to software security firm McAfee, who said its researchers are expecting a 30% surge in online shopping threats over the festive break as cyber criminals look to trick the UK public into clicking on fake links and passing over sensitive financial information.

Half of Brits surveyed by the company said they think scam emails have got more believable thanks to the rise of AI, with fake messages becoming better written and harder to spot.

Fake online deals are a common type of scam, where people are tricked into paying for a product that’s never delivered, but McAfee’s research showed the most common trick used is a fake delivery message. This is where you receive an email pretending to be a delivery service such as Amazon, or another popular courier, saying your package has been delivered or had an attempted delivery.

A fake link can then install malware on your device, or even move you to a fake login page where tricksters hope to dupe you into typing in your private details, which they can then steal or use to access your personal or banking data.

“With an additional 10 million online threats expected on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, it’s never been more important to cast a sceptical eye over any festive deals or unexpected order and delivery updates,” said Vonny Gamot, Head of EMEA at McAfee. “Even if an email or text looks legitimate, it’s always best to go direct to the source, whether it’s an online retailer or delivery provider.”

The most common type of email fraud is known as ‘phishing’, where criminals use fake websites to trick people into clicking links. This can often lead to malware being downloaded, which can compromise your personal information and sometimes lead to bank fraud.

It’s even easier for hackers to access your details if the scam is so convincing that you even try to login to a site because it looks so much like a service you trust.

“Remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” said Gamot. “Many scams are effective because the scammer creates a false sense of urgency or preys on a heightened emotional state. Pause before you rush to interact with any message that is threatening or urgent, especially if it is from an unknown or unlikely sender.”


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