The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has thrown the country (and the rest of the globe) into a tailspin. State and national leaders are making strategic decisions to keep citizens safe, with many ordering lockdowns, social distancing policies, and nonessential business closures. All of this means that more people are working from home than ever before. While remote work is beneficial for keeping people safe and minimizing the spread of the virus, it also comes with a few downsides. Specifically, remote workers have become a primary target for hackers, fraudsters, and other types of cybercriminals.
Computer repair professionals and around the country are working overtime to help professionals manage daily tasks and avoid falling victim to coronavirus scams. Below, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about these digital threats and how to stay safe.
What Types of Scams Are Hackers Using to Prey on Workers During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Over the past few weeks, you’ve probably received a variety of emails from businesses (such as grocery stores, fitness centers, and libraries), your town’s school district, and the federal or state government regarding coronavirus-related policies and changes. Unfortunately, scammers are counting on this inundation of information to catch you off guard, confuse you, and take advantage of you in a time of distress.
Many hackers have used the outbreak to steal or ransom victims’ data. Most commonly, cybercriminals are relying on smaller scams and strategies to confuse and exploit newly remote workers whose home networks do not have the same safeguards as their office systems. In a survey by CNBC, 85 percent of businesses reported that 50 percent or more of their employees were working from home. Therefore, robust cybersecurity protocols are more important than ever.
Business consulting and cybersecurity teams everywhere are working hard to safeguard networks and devices and provide clients with the tools and knowledge to avoid the following COVID-19 scams:
As previously mentioned, many companies and organizations are using email to communicate coronavirus-related updates, which has created a massive influx of messages for the average user. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that phishing scams are some of the most widely used right now.
With a coronavirus phishing scam, hackers may send emails pretending to be national authorities, health officials, or banks offering advice about how to stay safe during the pandemic. These messages typically prompt users to click a malicious link, download malware, or provide personal information that can be used to harm you, your finances, or your reputation.
Luckily, there are a few simple ways to detect a fraudulent email. If you notice any of the following signs, delete the email immediately and report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- There are grammar and spelling mistakes in the subject line and message body.
- The sender requests cash or bitcoin contributions to fight the coronavirus.
- The sender requests your personal information via email.
- The message uses a generic greeting, such as, “Dear valued member.”
Some hackers are setting up fake websites about the coronavirus, claiming to run fundraising efforts or offering remedies and pharmaceuticals to combat it. These scammers are playing on your fear and emotions, hoping you will offer up your banking details to learn more about testing kits and vaccines. They may use logos from the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to give you a false sense of security and lure you into providing personal information that they can use to compromise your computer.
When viewing COVID-19 related websites, you should first check to make sure the site has a secure connection. If there is a padlock in the left corner search bar, the website is secure. Also, you should check to make sure the site features professional design and upkeep. If you see grammatical errors or shoddy design elements, these are solid clues that it’s a sham. Of course, when searching for coronavirus news or information, it’s best to stick to reliable sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Smartphones offer remote workers a convenient, flexible alternative to working on a laptop or desktop. Participating in a conference call with colleagues while taking the dog for a walk is the perfect way to approach telecommuting. Unfortunately, cybercriminals know this and are targeting mobile devices using coronavirus apps, which claim to track cases of the virus in your area. Once you download the app, however, it installs malware that compromises your device, personal data, and work information.
Stay Safe Throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic and Beyond with Help from NerdsToGo Computer Repair
The cybersecurity experts at NerdsToGo are here to help keep you safe from digital threats throughout this difficult time. We understand that the transition to social distancing and working from home may be difficult. That’s why we’re dedicated to providing the support you need to use your network and devices as safely as possible.
Whether you are an employer who wants to supply your employees with additional tech support or a remote worker who needs advice on keeping your system safe, our Nerds are here to assist. Contact us to learn more about coronavirus scams and how the NerdsToGo team can help you detect and prevent them.