With the increased number of people staying at home a rising number of complaints about misuse of the internet have been reported, head of the office for combating cybercrime & digital forensics lab Andreas Anastasiades said on Tuesday.

He urged parents to pay special attention to their children as the office has received a number of complaints about individuals approaching children for sexual purposes.

Anastasiades said with the increased use of the internet there is “an increase in complaints about the use of the internet in general and online fraud.” There are many online ads about offers and free gifts allegedly from reputable shops, he warned.

“Fraudsters are adjusting their action and are hiding behind the internet’s anonymity,” he said.

They offer gifts and make people give them their credit card details for small amounts for delivery purposes, such as €3.

Another form of cybercrime on the rise are cases of people approaching children for sexual purposes. “Our office is on the alert and we are investigating all reports,” Anastasiades commented, appealing to parents to be on the lookout too. Children, he said, are contacted by people both in Cyprus and from overseas, usually via Facebook and lately Viber.

Anastasiades also emphasised the increasing use of fake news.

“We are trying to locate cases of fake news but you must appreciate that people ought to be careful about what they see and what they believe. We recommend that the public follow only the official websites.” More info can be found on the office’s website at www.cyberalert.cy.

Meanwhile, cybersecurity adviser in Cyprus and Greece Alexia Christofi said “these difficult days have given a new dimension to the action of cyber criminals”.

She said in addition to classic hackers, now there are more sophisticated hackers using social engineering to manipulate fake ads, gifts and offers and to obtain users’ information such as credit card details and ID numbers.

With the shortage of masks for protection against Covid-19, Christofi said “we get rushed offers that refer to electronic shops that only ask for payment and shipping details to complete the so-called order. It is advisable to verify the merchant’s legitimacy by looking for contact details and contacting them for cross-checking, she advised.”

She also warned about cases where a “nicely written email is sent to persons who are unwilling to provide their personal information, containing a link with trojan virus that enters the receiver’s device and providing access to personal data”.

 

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