Cybercriminals exploit scams as COVID-19 fears increase

March 24th, 2020
Cybercriminals exploit scams as COVID-19 fears increase

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The novel coronavirus also known as COVID-19 has been classified as a pandemic and is spreading across the globe rapidly. This has caused many businesses to take immediate action. A majority of businesses have shut down and are encouraging employees to work from home. All sporting events, conferences, and concerts have been put on hold indefinitely. As businesses roll out their contingency plans and policies to mitigate the effect of this contagious virus, cybercriminals are approaching it as an opportunity. Hackers are taking advantage of peoples fears by sending out phishing scams centered around Coronavirus. These emails often contain links to websites that could contain viruses, malware, or Ransomware.

Beware - not everything you see is the truth, and you shouldn’t click on everything. Cybersecurity companies have identified that hackers are using peoples concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak to get into their network and spread cyber threats.

A common attack is an email that claims to be from the World Health Organization (WHO) offering advice on how to identify and handle this deadly disease. The email includes a Word document using a previous Microsoft version, which requires the individuals to enable macros to view the content. Once the macros are enabled, trojans are installed on your computer to steal confidential data such as usernames, passwords, and bank details.

You might have received one of these emails already. Companies such as Amazon, H&M, Wal-Mart, banking institutions, and many more are sending emails to their customers about how they are handling the outbreak. Cyber criminals are aware of this and are using it as a topic for their phishing emails. While these emails seem legitimate, they require you to enter your username and password. Once they get your credentials, it’s over. They gain access to your account, hold your data hostage and only give you access once you have paid up.

Here’s another coronavirus themed scam, you might have come across. Criminals are sending a chain message via WhatsApp and Facebook including a clickable link. The link installs malware onto your machines and provides cybercriminals a backdoor into your network.

These are just a few examples of the latest schemes, but they serve as a reminder that you must be cautious about any coronavirus-themed emails and websites. If you are contacted by a person or organization that you generally connect with, verify their authenticity before clicking on the link and providing information. To verify the email, you should also check the address the email is coming from. If the email address has spelling/grammatical errors, a different domain for instance, [email protected], it’s likely a fake email.

To avoid a cyber attack, you should also turn off macros and apply patches regularly on your network and your computer. You should also ensure your business has all the tools in place to identify if its security has been breached. If you are concerned about your business security during this outbreak, call us at (416) 966-3306 or email us at [email protected] and someone from our team will be happy to help.

P.S. we are aware businesses are going through a rough patch right now as they are shutting down or finding other means to operate. We want to help you prevent your business from taking another hit because of these heartless cyber criminals. We can evaluate what you have in place now, and help ensure you are protected in the future.