The COVID-19 outbreak has instilled a sense of fear into the hearts of many as their companies are forced to close, or they are being diverted to work from home. This has presented new opportunities for cybercriminals to become more creative with their attacks. Our goal at PacStates is to keep you, your family, and businesses safe by sharing relevant and time sensitive content. Just last month three Alabama Hospitals were shutdown due to ransomware. A Cyber attack can happen to anyone and at any time. The following are four ways that cybercriminals are using to attempt to steal your information.
The first is the need for information. During this pandemic, people need information, and they will take it from wherever it is released. Cyber Criminals are using this need to up their phishing and social engineering scams. Whether it is impersonating a high ranking official or entity within the government, they are designing their “information” to look official by providing false links that claim to have important information regarding the virus. With the perceived authority of the sender, people are more likely to click on the links allowing malware and ransomware access to your data. Although keeping yourself and your family educated on the virus is important, it is imperative that you go directly to the source. If you see communication from the CDC or any other source that is providing updates, we highly recommended that you go directly to the website as opposed to clicking on anything within the communication.
Second is the desire to help. Many people around the country are banding together with their communities to provide support to those in need. Many people have been left unemployed and are struggling to make ends meet. With the increase in legitimate GoFundMe’s and other donation pages, there has also been an increase in fraudulent ones. It is becoming difficult to tell if one is real or fake as they can look like legitimate calls for help. If you receive one of these from someone you do not know, it is again recommended to not click on anything in the message. Even if it is someone you know, it is best to reach out and obtain confirmation from them directly that they are requesting assistance. Cybercriminals are using these to obtain any information they can. Ranging from credit card numbers to personal information, due to these reasons, it is safer to be skeptical of requests. It is recommended to donate resources to more trusted organizations to be sure that your money is going to the right place.
The third method cybercriminals are using to obtain information is canceled events and activities. They are luring individuals in with refunds or schedule changes to coax them into giving their credentials or credit card information. Currently, email inboxes are being flooded with communications from companies that you may have done business with in the past. Although it is important to read and understand the information provided, they will never ask for any personal information. If there are any attached documents or requests to update information, please call the company directly to confirm that the communication is indeed from them and that the request is legitimate. This will keep your information safe, and keep you informed during this time.Finally, the use of unsecured Wi-Fi networks and increased reliance on mobile devices has opened yet another door for cybercriminals to access and steal your data. With the recent transition to working from home, companies have become more vulnerable than ever with employees working from their home internet. Most people do not have a team of IT agents working behind the scenes keeping their data safe, which is why it is critical to utilize a company-provided VPN and stick to company-issued devices for work purposes. It is also important not to let any family members use your business devices as they could unintentionally grant access to your data. A solid rule of thumb is to follow your company IT department’s guidelines as they can vary from business to business. There is also a risk in the reliance of mobile devices, as the heightened use will attract attacks to a lesser-protected system. Most people treat their mobile devices like they are impenetrable. However, they are an easier target for cybercriminals.
This pandemic has caused many ways for cybercriminals to access and steal your information, and they won’t slow down. Their attacks will continue to become more sophisticated and mature; they will continue to take advantage of every vulnerability that has a possibility of benefit to them. With all of the current uncertainty they will continue to prey on the public fear. Now more than ever, it is critical to take note of what vulnerabilities exist and exercise skepticism as you navigate during these trying times.
Here at PacStates, we are committed to providing the cybersecurity and IT services you need to keep you and your family safe. We have been Northern Nevada’s trusted one company, one call solution provider for over 30 years. We are locally owned and operated and always available to protect your company and our community