SOS – Electronic greetings cards

Most people receive greetings cards over the winter period – many of them by email. Although many of these electronic greetings cards are perfectly inoffensive, others could be genuine risks to the private data and computers of their recipients. Remember these safety tips when you get an electronic greetings card and enjoy peace of mind over the festive period.

Electronic greetings cards

These are sent by either by “traditional” email or by another messaging system, such as private messaging on forums, for example, or by websites specialising in the design and sending of electronic greetings cards.

There are several types of electronic cards:

  • Greetings cards sent as attachments – these can be viewed by downloading a file attached to the message received (user interaction required in order to execute the file),
  • Greetings cards directly in the message – these are directly visible by opening the message (no user interaction necessary to execute a file),
  • Greetings cards on a website accessed via a link in a message – the user has to click on a link which redirects them to a website to view the card. It is possible that, in order to view the message, the user has to enter the identifiers contained in the message they received, but this is not always required, as the specific URL for the greetings card would be difficult to guess (interaction necessary with the user to execute the file).

Sending greetings cards

If you want to send electronic greetings, there are a few rules you should follow so that you don’t end up getting conned.

Site reliability

Use reputable websites to send greetings cards. Firstly, this will give you a guarantee that your cards have actually been sent. Reputable websites also have strict usage rules with regard to the email addresses you provide. Surely you don’t want all the email addresses of your friends and family sold to spammers?

Online payment

Firstly, if you want to subscribe to a pay service, look out for site security. As with all online payments, check that the pages are secure and that the website is reliable. Please note that most of the websites offering electronic greetings cards are free of charge (and are funded by advertising).

In case of any doubt, please read through the page: e-commerce – best practices

Receiving greetings cards

As with all emails, there are a few rules that should be respected when you receive virtual greetings cards. Even if someone you know sends you a greetings card with the best of intentions, the card could contain something more than good wishes.

Beware of phishing

Some con-artists are only too willing to use the Christmas period to ramp up their phishing activities. You may think you have received a greetings card from a reputable website that you are subscribed to. Your guard will be down and you risk entering your username and password into a fake website.

Never trust this type of website with an important password, such as the one you use for your email account, your favourite social network or your online bank account.

Do not click on any link that looks a bit strange, and do not enter your log-in information if you click on a link included in an email. You should always preferably go to the website by typing the web address into the browser yourself before logging in.

Beware of malicious files

As with any email attachment, do not open attached files if you do not know the person who sent them. With greetings cards, if the name of the company offering the service is given, check whether it is a legitimate website, that the identity of the person who sent you the card is given and that you actually know this person, before opening the attachment.

Don’t forget to update your computer (operating system and applications, especially your web browser and email program), so you can avoid getting trapped by opening malicious greetings cards which exploit vulnerabilities to enable criminals to gain access to your computer without your knowledge.

As well as this, to protect yourself against malicious files, install anti-virus software and anti-spyware that can scan the attachment, thereby reducing the risk of opening a malicious file.

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