Cybercriminals didn’t take long to catch on to the coronavirus panic.
With Americans being encouraged to work from home, there has been a huge influx of internet usage, something that cybercriminals are quickly taking advantage of.
Hundreds of coronavirus-related domains have been registered in the past two weeks and thousands of emails sent out hiding under the guise of trusted organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in an attempt to gather information or act as carriers for malicious malware.
It’s important to Pioneer that our customers recognize and understand that taking the necessary steps to stay safe online is extremely important. Your personal devices hold passwords, personal information, and data that is valuable to you, which makes it extremely valuable to cybercriminals.
Protecting yourself online, luckily, is easier than many think. Here are six tips for keeping yourself safe:
Think Before You Click!
Most malware campaigns are impersonating organizations like WHO and the CDC and are asking you to click on links or download maps. Stop. Think. And wait to click. Most reputable organizations will not ask you to click a link, particularly one that is hidden or shortened. If you’re not sure, go directly to the organization’s website to access the content.
Be wary of Coronavirus-related emails
It’s highly likely that any email regarding coronavirus is a scam. It’s unlikely anyone outside of your organization would be emailing you about the virus. If you don’t recognize the email, delete it.
Check the Sender
Before clicking anything, look at the sender. Cybercriminals will do their best to make it look as official as possible, but the domains will always seem a little off. Domains like ‘who-pc.com’ are just different enough to make you question the authenticity of the email. Do NOT open any files from an unknown address.
Check the content
Look out for spelling mistakes or grammar, often these emails come from countries where English is not their first language, leading to simple mistakes that reputable organizations or companies wouldn’t make. This should be an instant red flag to you.
You should also keep an eye out for lures, which are offers too good to be true. It’s likely that any email offering you money or ‘tax rebates’ in response to COVID-19 are simply phishing for valuable information like your social security number or bank information.
Watch out for apps or website links
Don’t download anything onto your device that promises Coronavirus tracking or information. Don’t click on any random links, whether by email or social media, that promise you any deals or information. Many email attachments are installing keyloggers onto your computer, which allows criminals to record and view every keypress you make. This means they get every password and bank card number you type in.
Update Your Device Software
There’s a reason your internet devices update so much. Companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google are constantly monitoring new software and recognizing the ‘weak links’ in their products before sending out new software to fix it.
If your device isn’t updated and you go online, you are inviting Cybercriminals to exploit these known weak spots.
Know the facts
Government agencies will not contact you or ask for private information via phone or email. With the passing of the Stimulus payment, calls and emails using this lure are already being used to scam people. Be wary of anyone that contacts you for personal information.
I think I may have fallen victim to one of these scams, what should I do?
You aren’t alone. Thousands of people fall victim to these scams. It’s likely that some damage has already been done, but by being proactive and trying to stay ahead you might be able to lessen some of the blow.
Submit a report to the FBI
If you feel you have been a victim of an online scam, you can submit a report to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at https://ic3.gov
Contact your IT Helpdesk
If you happen to click on a link or open an attachment on a company device, you should report it to your IT Helpdesk immediately.
Be mindful of the information you offered
If you entered any personal information into a website, you need to change any passwords you may have entered onto it and inform your bank if you entered any financial information.
Notify Credit Agencies
Contact one of the major credit bureaus as soon as you can and let them know your account was potentially compromised. Place a fraud alert on your account until the issue has been resolved.
Review your bank and credit card accounts regularly and keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.
This information can seem daunting, but by being mindful and proactive you will be taking the steps to ensure that you and your information are safe online.
Here at Pioneer, we want to make sure you are educated and informed when it comes to being online. Below you will find several links to trusted sources for information on COVID-19.
Trusted Sources and Links for COVID-19 information:
The CDC has developed a one-stop-shop for background on COVID-19, news monitoring the situation and up-to-date statistics on cases. It also has a wealth of resources for professionals, travelers and the general public, including Frequently Asked Questions.
The WHO page includes background information on the Coronavirus, select news on the outbreak, and a Questions and Answers section.
The Associated Press (AP) is a not-for-profit news cooperative that is widely considered to be the least biased reporting in the U.S., meaning all information should be straight forward and brief.
The Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins is mapping the number of global cases, deaths, and recoveries from COVID-19. The data is updated throughout the day and allows you to focus on your state or city.