Protecting Yourself Against COVID-19 Cyber Attacks
As we continue to navigate through the current state of the pandemic, we wanted to reach out and provide you with some helpful information on how to keep your technology and most importantly, you safe from potential cyber-attacks that may stem from the COVID-19 crisis. Attackers are using the coronavirus pandemic as the theme of many of their new cyber scams. These scams have already been seen in a variety of formats, including malicious mobile apps, phishing emails, and malicious websites. We want you to be aware of the types of scams that are becoming prevalent so that you do not fall victim to them.
Cybercriminals have already begun trying to exploit the public’s fears of the coronavirus with phishing email campaigns. These phishing emails have been seen in a wide variety of formats including:
- Posing as official communications from employers, universities, and other organizations you interact with
- Posing as official communications from the CDC or WHO
- Claiming to have important information to help you survive the pandemic
- Claiming to have access to masks or other protective equipment
There has been a surge in new domains related to COVID-19 being purchased and set up, and most of them do not have your best interests in mind. Many of these websites are infected with malware, and visiting them can infect your machine.
- Stick to trusted sources of news when looking for updates on the coronavirus
- Navigate directly to the site you want to get updates from rather than clicking on a link on a different site, or in an email
- Avoid COVID-19-themed websites being advertised in banner ads
Malicious Mobile Apps
For mobile users, criminals are aware of how many people are interested in tracking the coronavirus, receive breaking news updates, and have begun to offer apps claiming to do so, but unfortunately, many of these apps are malicious in nature. One such app, which was being distributed through a website rather than the typical Android app store, was actually a ransomware application that was charging users $100 in bitcoin to unlock the device.
To avoid these types of attacks:
- You should avoid downloading applications that are not distributed through an official app store
- Rather than downloading an app to stay up to date, visit reputable news websites for breaking news
- As a general rule, avoid downloading any unnecessary apps on either Android or iPhone
Finally, please know that we are here to support you. If you feel unsure about an email, a website, or a mobile app that seems out of place, please do not hesitate to contact us immediately. As always, the best way to get support is by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
For additional resources on how you can protect yourself against a COVID-19-directed cyber scam, please visit https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/current-activity/2020/03/06/defending-against-covid-19-cyber-scams