Learn how to recognize them and protect yourself, and where to go for legitimate COVID-19 information.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way so many of us live our lives that it’s on many of our minds throughout most of the day. Cybercriminals, always camouflaging their tricks to blend in with the latest topics, know this all too well. As a result, they have already launched countless scams preying on the panic surrounding the virus. So now, in addition to keeping ourselves safe from the novel coronavirus, we also need to protect ourselves from the worldwide outbreak of coronavirus-related cyber scams.
Most of these are phishing scams, in which the attacker tries to trick us into opening a malicious attachment, clicking a malicious link, or giving away personal information. This is done through outright lying and trickery, but fear not – there are ways to both recognize and combat these scams.
Identifying Fake Apps
Avast Threat Labs recently discovered a new wiper malware family called CoViper that is taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis. The malware masquerades as a file related to the Coronavirus. This devastating malware will rewrite the file that tells your PC what to do when it reboots. The result is a machine that can never progress past an empty boot screen.
To understand how to avoid these kinds of scams, let’s look at the most common types of scams hitting inboxes these days.
The first step to avoiding these scams is being able to recognize them. The guidance here is similar to how we would spot a fake app, which is essentially to look at the finer details for dead giveaways. To detect phony apps, we look at the developer’s name, the reviews, the number of downloads, and other telltale signs of legitimacy. Detecting a coronavirus scam calls for similar vigilance. Use the following checklist if you think you may be the victim of a scam:
Just like with the actual coronavirus, you can do your part to stop the spread of these scams by keeping yourself safe and protected. Chances are, you are now working either partly or completely from home. Many scams spread by first getting a foothold in a company’s system, usually through simple vulnerabilities like weak passwords. Keep yours robust by following the best practices for passwords – make them complex, never reuse any, and enable multi-factor authentication if it’s available.
Employers will want to keep security hygiene up-to-date with all their remote workers during this time. Make sure all employees are aware of these scams so they can stay vigilant. (Additionally, you can keep your workers sane and sensible with our working-from-home tips.)
The best way we can protect ourselves from coronavirus scams is to only trust information we seek out ourselves. For legitimate science and data regarding this pandemic, we should go to official medical authorities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the National Institutes of Health.
Let’s all work together to stop the spread of misinformation about this virus, to stop the spread of scams playing on this virus, and to stop the spread of the virus itself. At moments like this, we owe it to each other to stay safe, stay kind, and stay smart.
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