Cybercriminals sure are an opportunistic bunch, aren’t they?
With everyone hunkered down, working from home or just killing the time browsing the web, cyber attacks are exploiting the situation and using email phishing schemes.
These emails are typically marketing COVID-19 information and ask you to open an attachment to see the latest news and statistics. That’s a pathway to giving the hackers your information or downloading malicious software onto your device.
According to cybersecurity firm Norton, these emails will typically masquerade as official alerts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, health advice from specialists and workplace advisories.
Here are some ways to spot a phishing email, according to Norton:
- Legitimate government agencies won’t ever ask for that information in an email. Never give out your personal information to an unknown source via email.
- Verify that the email and link are legitimate before clicking anything.
- Spelling and grammatical mistakes are common in phishing attacks. Delete those.
- Phishing emails usually contain generic greetings and likely won’t use your name.
- If a sender is urging you to take immediate action and provide personal information, it’s a phishing attack.
The trend has become so prevalent that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has even issued an advisory asking end users to not clink on any links from unknown sources.
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As always, you should only get your information about COVID-19 from trusted sources like the CDC, World Health Organization and reputable news organizations.
Other COVID-19 cyber attack threats
If any email contains an offer for a vaccination or treatment, ignore it immediately. If there was a treatment or vaccine, you won’t find out about it via email from a strange source.
Be wary of solicitations for donations. The FTC says to do your homework when you’re being asked to donate to help fight the virus. Don’t donate if you’re being asked to send cash, a gift card or wire money.
Cybercriminals are smart, and they follow the headlines and aim to capitalize on your fear and uncertainty.
This is definitely a strange time, but while you’re working at home, you should follow the same cybersecurity precautions you would follow in the office.
Follow the advice of cybersecurity professionals and you should be able to spot a phishing email miles away.