Learning from Home

Copyright Scams: How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Whether you are an experienced webmaster or a new one, there are cybercriminals who specifically target your role. What’s more, due the pandemic and the resultant job losses, working from has led to many people who have started their own blogs, personal websites, and business sites. Cybercriminals are eyeing webmasters as the targets for scams, so webmasters have to be extremely wary of attacks coming their way.

The art of scamming webmasters

If there is one term that webmasters are scared of, it is ‘copyright infringement.’ And if we have learned something about cybercriminals, it is that they will create an attack strategy preying upon your worst fears – and for webmasters, this is the fear of having accidentally committed copyright infringement.

The way it works is quite simple. In this case, the webmaster does not receive the usually phishing mails attackers use, asking them to click on a link to access a free gift or that ‘one exceptional strategy’ to drive website growth. What they do receive will lay out in very serious-sounding terms that they have committed the grave sin of copyright infringement, and in order to see proof, they must click on a link.

What is that first reaction going to be if you are a webmaster and you see this message? Probably to worry, right? And it is that worry and subsequent anxiety that will make you want to click on that link. Scammers and cybercriminals also play on is the immense amount of confusion surrounding copyright. It is an extremely complex, convoluted topic, and there are so many rules and laws to understand that you might feel you have missed out on something.

The scam in action

So, what do these scams look like?

Most scams have the same attack profile: an email comes your way saying a particular piece of content on your site is infringes on copyrighted material. This can be an image, text, or anything other content. The mail is constructed in a way such that it is enough to get doubts in your head. Here are a few common types of infringement scams:

  • Make a direct payment: This is one of the most direct copyright infringement scams out there. You will receive the email that discusses an infringement, and it will directly ask you to make a settlement. The driving force of such emails is their look and feel, which can convince you that these have been sent by a company that represents copyright holders. You will be asked to make a cryptocurrency payment or through some mode so the payment is is difficult to track.
  • The link scam: Again, the scam starts off with you receiving an email that asks you to click on a link to find irrefutable evidence of copyright infringement. If you click on that link, malware will be dropped onto your computer. This could be the first step in cybercriminals launching a massive attack on your organizational network or commandeering your computer (which is now a zombie) to attack other systems. This malware could also be ransomware that can encrypt critical files on your computer and disrupt your life in general.
  • Spam: This not something you should worry about too much, as this is a link spam in which cybercriminals will ask you to link back to their website.
  • The phone number scam: With this method, you get an email asking you to click on a link that will take you to the original complaint. This complaint will have a toll-free number that you can call to get more information. You might think, what could go wrong? It’s just a phone call. But the person at the other end will be a scammer capable of convincing even the most suspicious person to share personal/sensitive information. So, don’t call that number – even if you do, don’t share any information that is remotely sensitive. We recommend checking out this article on Naked Security offering more information these types of calls.

Avoid falling into the trap

If you want to avoid becoming a victim of such scams, consider the following:

  • Choose content carefully: Obtain images which are either covered by the Creative Commons license, which you can use without an issue; or buy images from authorized image sites only. Avoid copying content from any source, and even if you are quoting a text or statistic, make sure you cite the source.
  • Investigation: It’s understandable if you are worried about the penalties you are liable for if the copyright infringement is true. But if you do receive an email, the golden rule is to treat it with a degree of suspicion and check whether it is a stock letter (a fake) and whether the company it is from is the real deal.
  • Research the sender: Who is the letter from and whose copyright have you infringed? Make sure you are aware of the ins and outs of the email you have received.
  • Don’t click on the link in the email: Finally, if you are suspicious about the origins of the email, delete it and forget about it. Don’t click on any link in the email just to be sure. Don’t allow any email to convince you to take an immediate decision without thinking the pros and cons through especially the latter.

Protect yourself with a strong antivirus

You need to exercise an immense amount of caution when you are making certain decisions like clicking on links or visiting a website. But there are times when things might fall through the cracks despite your best efforts. This is why you need protection that secures your computer from both known and unknown threats.

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