File picture: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee/AP

 CAPE TOWN - We take a look at the year 2017's most notorious internet scams and malware that took over the cyber world. 

Remember to always update your anti-virus program and avoid giving out your personal information to just anyone.

Also read: WATCH: Different types of atm scams to watch out for

Here is a list of the viruses and scams: 

1. Wannacry randsomware  

The WannaCry ransomware cryptoworm infected more than 200,000 computers in over 150 countries since May 2017. 

In what you may think is a harmless looking email zip attachment, little do you know it keeps the so-called 'cyptoworm'. 

PC users who open the attachment find much of their data encrypted by hackers, who then demand money.

The cryptoworm was a major problem for the UK's NHS, America's FedEx and Germany's rail system and the attack had an impact on the services these organizations provide.

 This sort of malware can only infect out-of-date Windows devices, so the best defence is to make sure all your Windows applications are fully updated and protected.

2. Petya/Notpetya wiper

This malware virus called Petya/NotPetya struck computers worldwide in June 2017. 

Petya/NotPetya can be described as a wiper, rather than ransomware, as it is unable to retrieve any data it erases.

While many countries were affected, the majority of infections were centred on Ukraine and Russia.

 The malware infects unpatched computers, meaning you don't update your computer with secuirty updates. 

 The virus  can be transmitted in the form of malicious software updates, so always ensure your devices are fully updated and only authorize updates from reliable sources.

3. Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams 

According to experts, the number of so-called business email compromise (BEC) scams is increasing. 

This is one to watch out for when you're at work. 

A type of what's known as 'spear phishing', the fraudster will impersonate a senior member of staff and attempt to get confidential company information or wire money to themselves. 

The attackers can even gain access to vulnerable computer systems and essentially hack into the email system. 

To lessen the chances of an attack, it's a good idea to make sure all systems are protected and up to date.

Be cautious of any emails that appear suspicious and include an unexpected demand for money or confidential information.

4. W-2 Phishing Emails

A type of BEC scam, W-2 phishing emails have been plaguing companies in the US this year. 

The scammers will get the email system of a firm and target employees in the finance department with requests for W-2 tax forms.

If successful, the fraudsters use the employee tax information they've obtained then file fake tax returns and claim fraudulent refunds. 

This scam has a success rate of 25% in the U.S. 

5. Scrab and other randsomeware

Other notorious ransomware that took over 2017 include Scarab, Locky, Jaff, and GlobeImposter. 

These malware strains use a variety of methods to infect their victims, from simple email spam messages with dodgy attachments, to web injectors, malicious updates and exploit kits.

You can help avoid a ransomware attack by investing in the best anti-malware program you can find, making sure your devices are fully updated and being extra-careful when you download updates and attachments. 

Locally, millions of South Africans had their personal information leaked which was discovered last year by Austrailian developer Troy Hunt. Around 12.4 million of those records discovered were minors.

Read more: #Dataleaks: You can now see if you are a victim

So be aware as in just a couple of clicks, you could be hacked, phished, scammed, and easily seduced into opening infected attachments. 

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