Fake Love Messages for Valentine’s Day 
Phishing for Compliments

Beware of emotions! In special moments, seasoned experts have fallen prey to simple tricks. Valentine’s Day, for example, is a day brimming with emotions. There is eagerness and joy when eagerly awaited love messages arrive. On the sender’s side, the triumph of causing harm prevails—especially when it is part of a phishing campaign cleverly packaged by a hacker pretending to be in love.

Love-struck Hackers

Cyber And Saint Valentin

Valentine’s Day is a prime date for cybercriminals. Employees, being only human, are particularly receptive to messages, greeting cards, and other expressions of sympathy on this emotionally charged day, making them especially vulnerable to a seemingly affectionate phishing ploy with malicious intent. 

However, there are effective technical means to proactively intercept phishing emails disguised as love messages and render them harmless. You will learn more about this by reading this article. 

When Emotion Prevails Over Rationality

IT managers know this: Cybercriminals are creative, innovative, and psychologically savvy. They are well aware of the weak points of their target group, down to the day, when it comes to emotionally exploitable entry points. Indeed, the natural attack surface of the human being—motivated by curiosity, helpfulness, fear, greed, the desire for recognition, etc.—is elastic in certain circumstances. (Those suffering from professional paranoia are obviously not included here.) 

But what can be done when you know that employees are particularly susceptible to flattery on Valentine’s Day? And how can technology help unmask deceit and trickery? 


Love is Blind & Cyberawareness Wins! 

You fear that on Valentine’s Day, your employees (who are only human) may not be attentive. 

  • Unconsciously expect love messages 
  • Rejoice greatly if they do receive them—even on their professional email address 
  • However, they do not pay attention and, for example, may click on a digital greeting card 
  • Fall into the trap of a phishing operation? 

What can you do about it? 

Once it’s done, it’s almost too late. Indeed, the situation/occasion will recur or persist until the “emotional security loophole” has been addressed or mitigated, for example, through the targeted use of technology.


Cybersecurity: Prevention is Essential 

Inform and raise awareness among your employees. Train their heuristics, their intuition. Encourage them to research. For instance, if you receive a message on your company email address on Valentine’s Day that seems friendly but not quite fitting for the business context, you can and should inquire politely: 

  1. To the IT department: “I received a friendly message here, but it doesn’t seem entirely harmless in the context of Valentine’s Day. Can you check it?” 
  2. Directly to the (supposed) sender—but via another communication channel, such as the phone or a messenger: “Thank you so much for thinking of me. But how did you get my professional email address?”
  3. Encourage your employees to speak up if they may have clicked too quickly or mistakenly on a potentially critical link. It’s human—and it’s better than saying nothing. 

Effective Technology Against Phishing 

Employee awareness is important. But it’s only the second step. 

Companies that shut the door on potential phishing dangers before they manifest socially fare well. What technological means can be proactively implemented upstream so that human resources are not at all in the position of deciding and detecting a cyberattack, and no one exploits their deeply human vulnerabilities through deceit? There are several effective possibilities. 

Cyber Kill Chain: Detecting the Attack Early 

Considering the stages of the Cyber Kill Chain or the lifecycle of a cyberattack, it’s clear that effective cyber defense begins in the preliminary phase—during attempts such as phishing. 

In other words, potentially dangerous emails from the company should be intercepted. IT managers should not rely on antivirus solutions to reliably detect the next stage. 

Instead, use tools that detect potential threats at an early stage!—On Valentine’s Day and beyond. 

Email protection also involves network behavior analysis and endpoint monitoring. If any of them deviate from the norm—that is, if anomalies are detected because suspicious processes are running—you must take countermeasures. 

Payload: Attacks With and Without Malicious Code

In social engineering, hackers use methods that avoid malicious code in the payload to escape detection by traditional protection on email servers. These phishing attacks must be detected and stopped in real-time. 

In many other types of attacks, however, the payload of emails does contain malicious code. Different security mechanisms can detect it—due to its composition—and prevent its execution. 

Protect your users’ mailboxes with intelligent security systems. 

Security systems such as NDR, which use artificial intelligence approaches to recognize whether an email is from a legitimate sender or a fraudulent one, work particularly well. 

They learn the behavior of each user—whom they communicate with, how they write, which days of the week and time of day—and what information is exchanged. 

If an email does not match the pattern of previous communication, for example, in the case of identity theft, the system intervenes, quarantines the email in question, or at least alerts the user. 


New Technical Possibilities 

Thanks to new technical possibilities and developments in the field of AI (ChatGPT!), even less skilled cybercriminals are more than ever able to craft perfect phishing emails, personalize them, and send them en masse—including the corresponding landing page. 

Tools & Cybersecurity Software

Solutions for Companies 

How do companies achieve maximum security against phishing? 

By using early detection tools for cyber risks and vulnerabilities that do not consume resources and even provide additional protection to employees. 

  • Encryption between email servers 
  • Email signatures 
  • Proper configuration of an email server (complete DNS records / hard authentication, e.g., DMARC, DKIM) 
  • Anti-spam 
  • Antivirus 

If companies take all of this into account, they are already doing well. At least on a technical level. But this significantly relieves employees in the company because romance killers, like fake emails for the day of love, generally do not reach their target. 

Want to learn more about effective technical means against manipulative phishing that protect you from pirate attacks, not just on Valentine’s Day? 

Want to know more? 

Feel free to get in touch!