Cyber threats are on the rise as cyber criminals take advantage of the current situation around the COVID-19 pandemic.
Almost as soon as the pandemic was official, reports were released of coronavirus-related phishing scams: Designed to trigger an emotional reaction, cyber criminals are tempting victims with URL links to safety notices, treatment advice and infection-spread maps. During February 2020, a phishing scheme was designed which contained genuine real-time data from the World Health Organisation – not many would question its legitimacy.
It’s sad but true that scammers are playing on the vulnerable, confused and emotionally charged state many of us are currently in. We can’t stop these criminals, but we can help you identify a scam:
Cyber threats to look out for and how to deal with them:
#1 Purchasing goods
A number of emails and internet advertisements are in circulation from supposed retailers who have stock of desirable goods: Face masks, hand sanitizer, etc. The general rule is; only buy from reputable companies that you know and trust. If you pay for goods via bank transfer to a company who is not reputable, you’re unlikely to receive anything but an emptied bank account. Ask yourself: Does it sound too good to be true?
Text messages from what appears to be an official source such as the UK government may not be what they seem. With a number of benefit schemes being made available to the public at the moment, cyber criminals are on a roll with sending fake links to claim funding, benefits and refunds.
If you receive a text with clickable content DO NOT CLICK. Instead, use the named organisation’s website to verify the information in the text. If you are still unsure if the content is a scam or legitimate, give the organisation a call and ask. However, never take the number from the text you’ve received – always source it yourself from the internet.
This is the email version of smishing but with emails, the scammers have a much broader range of options when it comes to their approach: Holiday refunds, NHS donation requests, re-arrangement of hospital appointments, latest breaking COVID-19 news – anything they can think of to trigger an emotional response that causes you to click that link or open that attachment.
Again, if you’re unsure, delete the email immediately and do your own research online or make a call to gain clarification. If you’re sure it’s a scam, still make that call and make the organisation in question aware.
Phishing with even less shame – if that’s possible – the scammer skips the email and calls you directly. They could be posing as the HMRC with a hefty refund for you or as your bank offering support during this financially difficult time. Being put on the spot gives you less time to consider the situation carefully and out of politeness, you’re more likely to hand over valuable information freely.
As a general rule we’d say, don’t trust cold calls: Never be afraid to ask questions to verify the legitimacy of the call and never be afraid to simply hang up. You can always check your suspicions by calling the organisation – not on the same number that called you of course.
These examples of cyber threats to look out for are all forms of social engineering – the ever-growing art of manipulation in the world of cyber crime. Read more about social engineering and protect yourself against cyber threats now and in the future.
Jupiter IT Is More Than IT Support – It’s IT Consultancy
At Jupiter IT, we’re committed to raising awareness of cyber crime and tightening cyber security.
Our number one priority is the continuity of your business systems and we are on hand whenever you need us. Whether you need advice or support, get in touch today.