How to Avoid Coronavirus Cyber Scams
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How to Avoid Coronavirus Cyber Scams

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“The Internet is drowning in COVID-19-related malware and phishing scams.” ~ ArsTechnica

As if there isn’t enough to be concerned about during the Coronavirus pandemic, cybercriminals are unfortunately ramping up scams and attacks of all kinds. With many people working remotely, more time spent online due to social distancing, and virtually everyone seeking hope and help during this difficult time, there is a huge current “opportunity” for scammers, meaning that now is the time to be even more vigilant about cyber security.

What to Watch Out For

Here are some examples of recent scams and attacks:

  • Fake Coronavirus tracker apps and sites that can install ransomware.
  • Employment scams and work-at-home schemes.
  • Phishing emails that purport to have information from official sources, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Fake donation sites or links.
  • Unsolicited robocalls, texts or emails pitching various scams.
  • Criminals online offering fake Coronavirus tests or cures, or access to scarce goods.
  • Ransomware targeting various businesses, organizations and municipalities.

How to Avoid Coronavirus Cyber Scams

Here are some simple tips and best practices for avoiding cyber scams during this trying time:

  • In general, now is a time to be especially suspicious. Fact check all information related to Coronavirus, especially before taking any action or passing the information along.
  • For the most up-to-date information about Coronavirus, rely on official sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Ignore any information regarding at-home Coronavirus vaccinations or test kits. At this time, there are no proven treatments or FDA-authorized home test kits for Coronavirus.
  • Be wary of texts or emails claiming to be from the government or some other official source, particularly with information about stimulus checks. If someone is claiming they can get you money early, it’s a scam.
  • Hang up on robocalls and don’t reply to unsolicited texts. Recordings may claim that pressing a number will get you to an operator, but it could lead to more calls.
  • Verify online sellers and donation sites.
  • Avoid clicking links in unsolicited emails or texts. Hover over them to verify where they lead to as a way to check their legitimacy.
  • Be wary of email attachments. Don’t download them unless you’re confident in the sender.
  • If you use Microsoft Office products, do not enable macros.
  • Never reveal personal or financial information online, especially in response to a text or email solicitation.

For more information see “Coronavirus Scams: What the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Is Doing” and “Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Information & Updates on COVID-19.”

Making the Complex Simple

Cyber scams are becoming more prevalent during the pandemic. Use good information along with these tips and best practices to be extra vigilant about cyber security.