Scottish Independence: Web Users Warned Of Malicious Links Promising Referendum Results

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Web users are warned of malicious links claiming to offer results of the Scottish independence referendum

As voters in Scotland go to the polls to decide whether the country becomes an independent state, web users are being warned of phishing scams that seek to take advantage of interest in the referendum by posing as links that reveal the result.

Online safety organisation Get Safe Online says that since there will be no exit polls, no indication of how the Scottish electorate has voted will be offered until the first results are confirmed in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

This, it says, will encourage cyber criminals to post links on social media, in emails and instant messaging services claiming to offer early results. But these links will often lead to a phishing scam or inappropriate content, while email attachments may also compromise security and allow an attacker to gain unauthorised access to a user’s device.

Scottish referendum spam

Edinburgh, capital city of ScotlandThe organisation says users should not download such files or access such links and recommend that people watch the results come in on television, or wake up tomorrow morning when the UK will know the outcome.

Email security firm Proofpoint says it’s no surprise that attackers should target the referendum as topical and breaking news stories are consistently in the top ten most powerful phishing lures used by cybercriminals.

“Pick any event, from one-offs like The Referendum to annual favourites like the UK Tax Returns, and cybercriminals will send millions of phishing emails in the run up to it,” says Mark Sparshott, EMEA director at Proofpoint. “Pick any major news story from a terrorist incident to a global brand being breached and cybercriminals will send millions of phishing emails immediately after it.

“Phishing emails used to be relatively low risk as most business and consumer mailboxes were adequately protected by anti-spam and anti-virus solutions. However today’s phishing emails are deadly because the cybercriminals’ techniques have evolved faster than most security solutions.”

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