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Hoax smartphone apps: a security headache in 2011

One of four scams plaguing web users this year

Hoax smartphone apps that masquerade as a game or app but actually steal personal information from the handset such as passwords and logins will be one of four internet scams causing problems for Brits in 2011, says Knowthenet.org.uk.

The online advice site also believes Facebook users and other social networkers will be the priority target of hackers looking to steal personal details. Research by BitDefender recently revealed that around two in five wall posts on Facebook contain links to malicious software.

"Internet scams continue to evolve as fraudsters subtly change the way they try to dupe us. Despite extra privacy settings, or more sophisticated antivirus software, at the end of the day we still need to be that extra little bit careful in how we interact online," said Knowthenet security expert Peter Wood.

Knowthenet also says hackers will exploit the 2012 Olympic Games, which are to be held in London, with a ticket con that will attempt to lure web users into buying fake tickets for the event. Tickets ordered at these sites will never arrive, or at best will provide us with a useless piece of paper, said the advice site.

Finally, web users will also be at risk of the 'Phone Support Switch', which sees fraudsters attempting to gain control of a PC by posing as a technical support firm and cold-calling their victims. The hackers claim a quick software download will fix any issues. However, it actually installs spyware or malware on to the machine and lets criminals access your machine's contents and use the PC as a resource to support their other digital attacks.

"It is very easy to feel safe when you click links on familiar sites such as Facebook, or download the latest app on your smartphone. But we all need to be aware that sometimes what you see is not always what you get. Throughout 2011, Knowthenet will be tracking the latest online hazards and posting up-to-the-minute advice and guidance to help you stay safe and do more online," said Phil Kingsland, site director at knowthenet.

See also: 5 internet security predictions for 2011

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