The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are far-reaching, and not even the internet is safe! Besides being the world’s number one topic for discussion and arguments, coronavirus has fueled an unfortunate spike in cybercrimes and scams.
Between cybercriminals out to steal your incoming stimulus check and shady robocallers selling you phony protective gear, business is booming for the digital underworld. Tap or click here to see the coronavirus scams you need to watch out for.
The cybercrime issue has gotten so bad, in fact, that security agencies in the U.S. and U.K. are issuing a grave warning about even more dangerous cyberattacks on the way. They fear that nation-state actors or worse may be behind them, but fortunately, you can listen to audio samples of these scam calls so you’ll know what to be on the lookout for.
A grim reminder
Cybercrimes may be on the rise, but we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s coming our way. Individual hackers, scammers and petty criminals may seem like a serious issue, but their resources are nothing compared to government-sponsored hackers and terrorist groups.
And those are exactly the kind of people that security agencies are most worried about. Both the U.S. and the U.K. have issued a joint security alert about cyberattacks using coronavirus-related themes as bait.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Britain’s National Cyber Security Center said in a statement that criminals and “persistent threat groups” will be exploiting our fears and uncertainty over COVID-19 to trick us into opening malicious links or downloading malware. These are two of the most common vectors for cyberattacks.
“Persistent threat groups” typically refers to government-sponsored hacking organizations, like the North Korean front group that unleashed the WannaCry ransomware on the world. Tap or click here to see how it shut down a hospital.
One example the alert outlined was fake emails from the World Health Organization, which would leverage the group’s credibility to trick people into downloading malicious attachments or opening dangerous links.
Others could include messages or links from entities pretending to be Microsoft or other tech companies. With so many people working from home, there’s a much better chance than usual for these emails to be opened.
Robocalls are another common avenue of attack, and COVID-19 may only accelerate the issue. These scams run the gamut from fake student loan cancelation messages to locations and access for COVID-19 testing kits.
Fortunately, the FTC has uploaded audio samples of several of the most common malicious phone scams circulating. You can give it a visit by clicking the link here and navigating to the left-hand sidebar to find the clips. You can also see sample text for some of the message scams circulating on phones and apps like WhatsApp.
Make sure to listen to each one and read the transcripts. That way, you’ll know what to expect the next time you get an unknown caller.
As bad as cyberattacks are for individuals, this joint security statement isn’t just aimed at us ordinary folk. It’s also aimed at government officials and businesses, who have far more to lose if their systems get compromised.
How can we protect ourselves from these cybercrimes?
The primary concerns of these security agencies are phishing attacks, which can take many forms depending on the sender. By harnessing current events, it’s much easier for threat actors to trick people into infecting themselves.
To stay safe, continue to avoid opening any emails or messages from people you don’t know. If you get an email from an official-looking source like the IRS, WHO or CDC, call them first to verify that the message was legitimate. Tap or click here to see how people were tricked by a fake CDC alert.
In addition, always refrain from providing any personal information over the web, if you can help it. No matter who the sender says they are, you have no business sharing files, documents or personal data with anyone you don’t know 100%.
It’s scary to imagine that anyone would be thinking of cyberwar during a global lockdown like we’re experiencing today. But as the COVID-19 crisis has taught us, history stands still for nobody. Stay safe out there!