Phishing Scams: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Brought New Scams and How to Keep Your Systems Protected

COVID-19 Managed IT services bay area

COVID-19 Managed IT services bay areaCOVID-19 has brought about unprecedented chaos to every part of the world. Unfortunately, the disease may even have residual effects that make it even more deadly.

To make matters worse, hackers have taken advantage of the panic surrounding the virus and begun to implement attacks on both companies and individuals. So, it is crucial to be able to recognize the signs.

Not sure where to start? Do not worry, we have got you covered.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.

Phishing Through Email and Text

One of the most commonly seen scams today involves hackers making phishing attempts through personal email and text messages.

COVID-19 has prompted many businesses to notify their customers and clients about how they are responding to the pandemic. Some loan providers are providing deferment, manufactures are practicing safe shipping practices and more.

Regardless of how companies are responding, it is very likely they’ve reached out to you to let you know their course of action.

The issue here, though, is that people have become notably used to receiving these types of messages. This reality may lead them to click a link without first verifying its source or destination.

For example, someone may wake up one day to a text from their bank or other financial institution and click it without a second thought. Upon entering their login details, they unknowingly supply a hacker with their account credentials.

The process can happen this quickly, so it is crucial to be prepared.

For companies who are allowing their employees to work remotely, they must educate their workers on how to prevent these attacks.

Otherwise, the entire company may suffer from having sensitive data compromised.

Managed IT services, though, are perfect for this situation and are an option worth exploring for businesses of any type.

COVID-19 Maps

There are a handful of suspicious websites out there that are offering live global updates on coronavirus infection. While the maps often function as intended, they infect the user’s machine with malware that can work undetected in the background.

From here, a hacker may access most or all of their sensitive data, including their passwords, social security number, bank info, and more.

As you can tell, what starts with simple curiosity can quickly turn into a devastating scenario for the average person.

While there are plenty of COVID-19 infection maps out there, you should only interact with ones that are on sites you know you can trust. Additionally, you should never download any sort of software related to this topic.

Treatment Scams

Currently, there is no known vaccine or cure for COVID-19. This situation has not stopped criminals from attempting to provide one, though.

Many scammers sell fake cures in the form of outlandish and ambiguous treatment options, such as a ‘special remedy made from medicinal herbs and animal fats.’ While it is easy to spot these, it is more important to realize that you should not interact with that individual in any form.

If you see someone providing treatment or misinformation regarding COVID-19 (it often occurs n social media), report them to your local authorities immediately.

Fraudulent Investments

Similarly, scammers also offer fraudulent investment opportunities in hopes that someone unwary of their intentions will fall for them.

These are not always quite as easy to discern as treatment scams, however. Someone may promote a book, course, or other material on what they regard as the ideal investments to make during the pandemic.

What makes these scams so difficult to avoid for some people is that there are legitimate institutions and figures in the financial space that provide this service. The difference, though, is that the scammer sends the buyer a near-worthless compilation of general info (or doe not send them anything at all).

If you are looking to invest during the pandemic, only accept advice or material from a trusted source. Research the provider as much as you can before moving forward.

False Charities

False charities have existed throughout nearly every major disaster. One of the most prominent incidents was the abundance of fake charities that arose during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

COVID-19 has proven to be no different in the sense that people are capitalizing on it for monetary gain.

In general, emails, fake social media accounts, and other forms of online communication are used to offer an opportunity to donate to some form of funding for COVID-19 relief. They may or may not offer insight into ‘past contributions’ all of which are most likely fake).

As with investment opportunities, the only charities you should donate to are ones that have been officially established and recognized before the pandemic began or ones that are organized by a noteworthy professional or public figure (such as America’s Food Fund being run by Leonardo DiCaprio).

Supply Scams

Since so many essential items are now becoming scarce (facemasks, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.), scammers have taken the form of shady online retailers that advertise their ability to supply these products for a low cost.

As you may expect, though, these items are never sent to the buyer, and the scammers often frequently close down websites or change the names of their false companies to avoid detection and backlash.

It is crucial to avoid providing these criminals with money, as it only helps them facilitate other scams in the future. For those who need supplies, this scam could also result in them waiting even longer to receive them once they realized their materials are never coming.

Keep Yourself Safe From Scams

With the above information about COVID-19 attacks and scams in mind, you will be well on your way toward ensuring that you stay as safe as possible.

Want to learn more about how we can help? Feel free to get in touch with us today to see what we can do.

Sagacent Technologies offers technology management and support, including proactive/preventative maintenance, onsite and offsite data back-ups, network and security audits, mobility solutions, disaster planning, and emergency business resumption services. The company serves clients of 10 to 150 employees within the Silicon Valley region.