Guyana Guardian

Cyber scammers are now targeting Guyanese and their inadvertent weakness for Christmas parcels

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(Guyana Guardian) – The holiday version of a cyber-scam which seeks to implant a photo stealing and data stealing Trojan into the mobile phones and computers of unsuspecting persons has been targeting Guyanese and other Caribbean web users on an unusually higher scale this Christmas.

The cyber scam operates by dispensing a parcel delivery email to recipients which informs them that a (non-existing) FedEx, UPS, or DHL parcel could not be delivered to their address for one reason or another.

The bogus delivery message then concludes by urging the recipient (who is a would-be victim) to download an attached parcel delivery receipt for more information.

And because most persons are often desperate for surprise holiday parcels and gifts from abroad, many of them would generally download the supposed “delivery receipt”, which is actually a virus or Trojan file that will then implant itself on to the user’s mobile phone or computer.

Thereafter, the Trojan will then try to extract private data (such as stored photos, messages, and any other piece of vulnerable information) from the user’s device, and then relay same to a remote database once the device is connected to the internet.

In most cases, the victim would never know or realize that they had downloaded and activated a data spying tool. However, depending on the prominence of an individual, the data hackers can harness the stolen information for blackmailing and prolong extortion, or to publicly expose an individual for some other gain.

Though this cyber-attack strategy have been around for a long time, and has various layers of effect; its objective to infect a mobile phone or a computer to harness information or extort money from the device owner remains the same.

Researchers at the Caribbean’s leading cyber security and anti-virus development company, Computer Care – Guyana (CompuCare Software Development), has since developed a patch to its existing PC Security Suite, which it says can locate and remove the PC version of the infection.

It is said to be still working on a fix for mobile devices.

However, it is believed that other mainstream antivirus programs such as Avast may have already have a fix that would work for both mobile and PC infections.

While actual statistics are hard to come by, the cyber security analysts at Computer Care – Guyana, says that Guyanese penchant for Christmas time parcels from abroad and the assessed frequency of these type of mails that were tracked by its cyber security systems can mean an infection rate of between 15,000 to 20,000 devices locally, and as much as half a million devices Caribbean wide.

The highest areas of concentration appears to be Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Dominican Republic.

However, the Cyber Security entity is advising computer users and mobile phone users not to open emails or download from emails whose subject line speaks about a supposedly undelivered parcel; or appears to give the impression that the message came from a major courier company which requires that they download a statement or a file.

About the Author

Andrea Fernandes
Andrea Fernandes is an Assistant Editor at the Guyana Guardian.

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