Over the past few months, the world has been introduced to the recently discovered coronavirus, better known as COVID-19. This disease has caused widespread panic amidst national lockdowns and recorded fatality rates, which cyber criminals are using to their advantage. Criminals are cashing in on the pandemic using various methods ranging from phishing emails to hosting fake marketplaces, and releasing malicious software.
Veriff’s information security team aims to highlight these tactics and offer cyber hygiene practices on how to avoid becoming the next victim of COVID-19-related scams. Here’s what you need to watch for.
Find the Phish
Phishing scams are dangerous because, especially times like this, you are made to believe that the message is sent from someone you trust. Normally these messages ask you to send your login details or payment for a service. Noteworthy examples of this are the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) whose identities have been misused in phishing campaigns. WHO has issued a warning for users to be aware of such fraudulent activity on their webpage, titled “Beware of criminals pretending to be WHO.”
There are a handful of cyber hygiene practices that can help you avoid phishing scams, such as:
Other popular scams taking advantage of the pandemic are related to financial fraud. Criminals are defrauding victims online by posting fake marketplaces, sites and social media accounts claiming to sell a range of medical supplies. The United States Department of Justice has a list of scams, including but not limited to, the selling of fake cures and vaccines, asking payment for patient treatment as well as the aforementioned selling of medical supplies. Before you make any COVID-19 related purchases, be sure to:
Although not necessarily linked to criminal activity, the spread of misinformation is fueling public anxiety and uncertainty of what lies ahead. This so-called ‘infodemic’ surrounding COVID-19 has been an obstacle for tech giants as of late. Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube Microsoft, LinkedIn and Reddit have come together to combat misinformation by elevating authoritative content and coordinating with government healthcare agencies to share updates. You can do your part in limiting the spread of such information by doing the following:
If you believe that you have fallen victim to either of these COVID-19 scams, don’t fret. You can still remedy the situation by taking these reactionary measures:
Most Importantly, Stay Safe
We each have the ability to protect ourselves and others by staying well-informed about both the health and cyber threats COVID-19 poses. Let’s do our part to help the internet be a safe place for all during this trying time. Most importantly, practice personal and cyber hygiene habits to stay safe wherever you may be.