Criminals are no different from the rest of us, at least when it comes to what’s top of mind. They’re thinking about whatever’s in the news. For the last few months, that's been Coronavirus. Hackers always play on the victim's curiosity, fear or anxiety, and COVID-19, by nature, checks all those boxes.
Communities around the globe have seen an uptake in phishing and smishing attacks surrounding Coronavirus. Here are a few cyber preparedness tips for dealing with those:
- With fake news polluting social media and local news stations and media outlets taking sides, your only real sources for information about COVID-19 are CDC and WHO. You can also check authentic regional government sites for updates, and announcements from your local government should provide information that’s specific to your area.
- Remember that email addresses can be spoofed. It’s happening now to both CDC and WHO emails. Take the extra time to validate who the sender is.
- If your information has been stolen, it’s likely out for sale. It’s not hard for an attacker to create an email with plausible information about you. For example, if your address and birthdate were stolen, and they were, the criminal can create a panic by sending an email about where you live, your gender or your age.
- Your phone will be attacked with malicious SMS messages, so be vigilant when responding to those.
- You may see legitimate services abused by disgruntled sellers. For example, there are some reports from Amazon and other online retailers about price gouging. Criminals may create havoc by creating artificial demand or shortages of emergency supplies.
- Health- and insurance-related scams will be on the rise. These may offer vaccination, protection or non-existent cures. Please don't fall for these.
- Remember, weak user passwords and the lack of MFA (multi-factor authentication) let criminals take over accounts every day. Some sources you believed to be trustworthy and authentic may no longer be.