The Online Scams of the Coronavirus

The Online Scams of the Coronavirus

Cybercriminals are a tireless bunch. While many businesses are slowing down and scaling back because of COVID-19, hackers aren’t taking any days off. The past couple of months have seen a surge in online scams.

The confusion caused by the pandemic creates the perfect opportunity for internet scammers. As people become distracted and desperate for answers, they are more susceptible to these scams. Here are a few of the most prominent examples to look out for.

Gone Phishing

Phishing has always been a relevant issue, but it’s even more dangerous now. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports an increase in phishing scams in which cybercriminals post as health authorities. They convince users to click through malicious links.

Some organizations have said they’ve seen as much as a 40% increase in phishing scams. The majority of these either pose as an authority figure or present an emotional plea for coronavirus relief. However, instead of linking to a legitimate charity, they steal users’ personal information.

Many of these scams take the form of emails, but you can find them everywhere. From fake domain names to phone calls to text messages, phishers are taking advantage of every conceivable outlet.

Ransomware and Spyware Attacks

Another troubling trend amid the COVID-19 panic is a rise in malware attacks. Several different websites and mobile apps claiming to be coronavirus resources have turned out to be vehicles for malware.

One such Android app locked users’ phones when they opened the app. The ransomware then demanded the user pay $100 in Bitcoin within 48 hours, or it would delete their data. Security forces have since closed down the app’s host website, but it sets a concerning precedent.

Another app showed real virus data from the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker but installed spyware on user’s phones. While both of these examples no longer exist, they likely won’t be the last of their kind.

Protecting Yourself From Coronavirus Scams

With this rise in cybercrime, you should take more care of your cybersecurity than ever. It’s easy to get distracted in the middle of everything, but you can’t afford to let your security slip. With that in mind, here are five tips to avoid the rising threat of cybercrime.

1. Inspect Everything

As many as 3% of coronavirus-related domains are malicious, and 5% are suspicious. With so many scammers posing as authority figures, you should double-check everything. Before you click on anything, carefully inspect email addresses, URLs and content for anything suspicious.

2. Make Sure You Meet Security Standards

If you’ve been hesitant to implement a new security standard, now’s the time to go forward with it. Make sure you incorporate it as quickly as possible. If ever there was a time to ramp up security, it’s now.

3. Consider the Cloud

Many companies are also seeing a surge in remote work, which often means more cloud reliance. In light of this, you may want to consider a cloud-native security solution. As your company adapts is processes, you should likewise adapt your security approach.

4. Take Access Management Seriously

Another adjustment that comes with remote work is changing access management. You should make sure everyone has access to the files they need without making everything completely open. You might want to consider adding additional access controls like multifactor authentication.

5. Stay Vigilant

Cybercrime is always evolving, with new threats emerging nearly every day. Make sure you stay up-to-date on possible coronavirus scams and reported data breaches. Your best defense in the fight against cybercrime is knowing what to anticipate.

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought new emphasis to many issues, including cybersecurity. However, if you know what to look for and increase your security measures, there’s no cause for alarm.

About the Author:         

caleb danziger authorCaleb Danziger is a freelance writer covering technology in all the many forms it comes. You can follow him on Twitter at @theotherdanzig

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