Identity Theft Protection
As we take up social distancing and shelter at home, the risk of cyberattacks increases. From avoiding phishing schemes to securing your online identity, vigilance is more important than ever.
Beware of criminals exploiting the coronavirus pandemic. Cyber-attackers are using coronavirus themes for nearly all types of attacks, including malware, phishing email campaigns, and business email compromise. Most notable have been attempts to steal credentials from users of Facebook, DocuSign, Microsoft Outlook Web Access, Microsoft OneDrive, and universities around the world.1
Malware, Ransomware, and Phishing Schemes. Fake coronavirus emails may contain links that download malware onto your computer. In one scheme, scammers use a legitimate interactive coronavirus dashboard developed by Johns Hopkins University in malicious websites that spread password-stealing malware.2 Similarly, coronavirus-themed ransomware can encrypt your computer’s hard drive, allowing hackers to demand payment to unlock it.
Coronavirus-related phishing schemes start with an email or text meant to trick you into handing over your personal information. Using elements like official-looking imagery or email addresses that look similar to those used by official businesses or government agencies, these emails claim to provide information on coronavirus. The links, however, redirect to web pages that steal your information instead of providing you with the latest updates. Likewise, beware of phone calls and texts from scammers pretending to be officials who may try to convince you to provide your personal information.
Business Email Compromise. While working from home can help slow the spread of the virus, it also brings new challenges. Increases in electronic business communications provide ample opportunity for hackers to gain access to proprietary company information. These hackers don’t always rely on sophisticated technology, but rather on “social engineering” attempts made to deceive employees by those pretending to be part of their organizations.3 Beware of emails regarding your company’s remote work plan, or requests allegedly from other departments within your organization. Responses to these requests can compromise an organization by providing confidential details to outsiders.
Secure Your Online Identity Now
Experts offer the following advice to keep you digitally safe during this crisis:
- The FTC recommends extra vigilance with regard to online security, which includes backing up personal data and using two-factor authentication whenever possible to make it harder for scammers to gain access to your accounts, even if they do manage to figure out your username and password.4
- Now more than ever, be wary of what you click. Avoid links from unknown senders, and don’t download attachments from unknown sources. Even if you receive information from someone known to you, still verify the link in case his or her email has been hacked.
- Be aware of fake websites that operate under the guise of collecting charitable donations, pretending to sell high-demand items like masks, or promising miracle cures or vaccines. Always check for look-alike domain names.
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts claiming to have information about the virus. In order to stay on top of the news, go directly to trusted sources—such as the CDC or the World Health Organization—for updates and information, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the United States Government.
- Make sure you’re protected in the event your identity is compromised. A robust identity protection plan will monitor your accounts for suspicious activity and will also provide resources and support to resolve complications that could result from a breach.
1“Coronavirus Threat Landscape Update, ”Proofpoint.com, March 18, 2020
2“Live Coronavirus Map Used to Spread Malware,” Krebsonsecurity.com, March 2020
3“How Hackers are Exploiting the Coronavirus and How to Protect Yourself,” Fortune.com, March 18, 2020
4”Coronavirus Scams What the FTC is Doing,” www.consumer.ftc.gov