Cyber Security during a Pandemic

Just about everyone on the planet knows now that we have a COVID19 (Coronavirus) pandemic on our hands. However, cyber criminals are taking advantage of this current crisis, and people’s fears, to spread malware.

I will post a list of validated and legitimate news sources at the end of this blog.

What are Cyber Criminals Doing?

Cyber Criminals are doing what they do best – be criminals! They are:

  • Sending emails/SMS/IM’s offering:
    • Click here for a cure
    • Covid-19 tax refund scam
    • Safety measures
    • The virus is now airborne
    • Donate here to help the fight scams
    • Other scam related attacks (see out Scams 101 page)
  • Malware loaded websites and apps
    • We have seen clones of the World Health Organization (WHO) website as well as the US Center for Disease Control (CDC)
    • Phishing attempts redirecting you to these websites
    • Fake COVID19 tracking apps
    • Fake Tracking websites dropping malware including banking Trojans and ransomware.

In short, all the usual attack vectors are being used with a COVID19 based theme to trick you into loading malware. See our Malware related guidance for more info.

We are also seeing a lot of ‘so-called’ well intentioned people providing their own opinions regarding the spread of the virus. While I am not one to stifle free speech, the only sources you should be relying on are the official ones sponsored by the national and international health organizations and your government.

What can I do?

TIP 1: The first thing you need to do is not click on any links you receive in emails, SMS’s and IM’s. These can be real, but more than likely it is a fake message. If you receive an alert from your national health organization or government, go to their website via a trusted bookmark.

TIP 2: Inspect your security settings on your devices to ensure that apps cannot be side loaded, and make sure you only accept apps from the:

  • Google Play Store for Android
  • Microsoft Store for Windows 10, or from known and verified websites
  • App Store and MAC store for your Apple devices.

To disable side loading of apps on Android see this website and do the reverse of their advice to disable side loading of apps. Same for Windows 10.

If you have a rooted device (Android) or a Jail Broken device (Apple/IOS), then be especially careful.

TIP 3: Bookmark the local, national and international health organizations and only go directly to them (see below for a validated list).

TIP 4: If something looks suspicious, it probably is. Be Cyber Aware! We have a lot of guidance on this website for you to get informed.

TIP 5: Make sure you adopt secure authentication practices and enable Two Factor Authentication to stop Credential Stuffing Attacks.

TIP 6: Here is that list of legitimate websites I promised:

Also look out for new broadcasts through the TV networks and reputable newspapers, in particular the following for the UK:

They all have COVID19 dedicated pages on their websites.

There will be a lot more news and information sites that I haven’t listed in your local area, and definitely relating to your own national government. However the standing advice is to find the legitimate site for your area and bookmark it and do not click on any links that look like it (see my blog on Domain Typo squatting for more info).

If you find more resources, then you can always send me a comment on this blog or an email via our contact page and I will update this blog. However I am limiting this to UK based information and not global.

You can also keep an eye on (and follow) our Twitter Feed as we will be retweeting any articles on malware related to the pandemic.

Conclusion

It is not my intention in posting this blog to jump on the COVID19 bandwagon and gain notoriety or attention.

The intention of this blog is to bring to the attention the sick activities of cyber criminals in relation to the pandemic and to forewarn anyone who follows this blog, or our Twitter Feed, of the potential cyber security dangers in this period.

This will be the only COVID19 related blog I will post, but it will remain pinned to our home page for the foreseeable future.

Please be safe when keeping informed about the COVID19 pandemic.


Headline image provided by ShutterStock

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