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With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, AVG has warned users of malicious e-cards that can expose your computer to security threats.According to the company, criminals are using e-cards to deliver viruses and other malware to the computers of their unsuspecting victims. Because risky e-cards are typically made to look like they have been sent from a trusted friend, they fool the recipient into opening them.

AVG’s Marketing Manager, Lloyd Borrett said, “Most people will automatically open an e-card if it’s from a friend or colleague. To protect yourself from unwanted attention from cyberspace be very careful what e-cards you open and what you forward on.

“While receiving an anonymous card from a Valentine can be exciting, opening an anonymous email with ‘I Love You’ in the subject line could be courting disaster. Don’t let some nasty piece of malware worm its way into the heart of your computer,” added Borrett.

AVG says that while only a tiny percentage of e-greetings will contain a security threat, many PCs will be damaged or compromised.

“This results in not only lost documents, emails, photos and so on, but compromised PCs often become unwitting distributors of spam or their owners may become the target of identity theft,” says the company.

AVG has also issued five tips to minimise the risk of becoming a victim of online fraud.

  1. Don’t open attachments: legitimate e-cards should be links to a company website that then direct you to your card.
  2. Identify legitimate messages: Don’t open any message with a disguised name, such as Your Friend or A Secret Admirer, or one from an unknown web site address. Watch for misspelled words or names.
  3. When in doubt, delete: It’s better to do that than open your system to a virus or spam.
  4. Know where you’re going online
  5. Always read the fine print before accepting any terms
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