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Ransomware Targets the Elderly, Youth Hit by Instagram Scams: Report

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Hackers are targeting senior citizens and middle-aged people with ransomware attacks while young adults are falling victim to various scams on popular apps like Instagram and TikTok, a new global report showed on Wednesday.

The research by cyber security company Avast found that a majority of those aged 65 and above and the age group of 25-35 primarily use their desktop computer or laptop to go online, leaving them susceptible to ransomware, tech support scams, spyware/Trojans, and Botnets.

On the other hand, people between the age group of 25-34 and 35-44 mostly use smartphones to go online (87 percent each) followed by 18-24-year-olds (85 percent), making them targets for adware, mobile banking Trojans, downloader and FluBot SMS scams spreading malware, and Instagram, TikTok scams promoting adware apps or Fleeceware.

Across all devices, younger and older generations are also targets for phishing attacks and romance scams, said the report, which forms part of a comprehensive global study with YouGov into digital citizenship trends.

“Cybercriminals often take into account how younger and older generations use different devices to launch targeted attacks, adapting them to current cultural and usage trends to make them more relevant and likely to hit their mark,” said Jaya Baloo, Chief Information and Security Officer at Avast.

According to Avast Threat Labs data, the company blocked on average over 1.46 million ransomware attacks on desktops each month in 2021.

Between January and April this year, there were 5.9 million tech support scam attack attempts globally each month.

On mobile devices, the top threats in the last quarter (Q3) were adware (59 percent), mobile banking Trojans (9.7 percent), and downloaders (7.9 percent), which are harmful apps that use social engineering tactics to trick victims into installing more malicious or otherwise unwanted apps.

“FluBot has also been spreading widely on mobile in most countries, including India, where Avast blocked 3,500 attacks monthly in August and September this year, out of 35,000 attacks blocked on average globally per month in Q3,” the report noted.

The most important internet activity for 35-44-year-olds is using social media (36 percent).

For the 55-64-year-olds, it’s banking and finance activities (38 percent), followed by video calling with friends and family (32 percent).

“This shows why these generations are targeted on their smartphone with scams on Instagram and TikTok, FluBot SMS and email phishing scams that look like they’ve come from friends or family, and mobile banking Trojans,” the report informed.

“Different generations may see the internet with different eyes and have different online experiences, which is something to keep in mind when having conversations about online safety at home,” said Baloo.


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