Avoid Coronavirus Phishing Scams
The current climate of our country is a perfect environment for Coronavirus phishing scams. People are stressed, they’re scared, and they want answers to their questions about COVID-19. Scammers know this and they will use this vulnerability to their advantage.
Additionally, this pandemic has decentralized many employees who are now working remotely and more independently than before. They are using home WIFI and handling more tasks on their own, which increases the likelihood of unintentional user error.
You’re are very likely to see a phishing scam come through your inbox at some point and we want to make sure you and your employees know how to identify these emails so that your company continues to keep its business information secure.
What is a Phishing Scam?
Simply put, a phishing scam is an attempt to trick someone into providing sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details. This is done by disguising an email as trustworthy either from a known company, coworker, or employer.
Coronavirus Phishing Emails
There are several ways someone can use Coronavirus to target you for information that you want to be on the lookout for including:
- CDC alerts– These emails are designed to look as though they are from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and will likely contain a link to “view cases in your area” or similar language.
- Health Advice Emails– Emails offering medical advice from Wuhan, China have circulated including links to download information. Hackers are also great at copying the branding of health insurance companies.
- Workplace Policy Emails– You are likely receiving updates from your company, so this is an easy way to get employees to follow links, download content or provide sensitive data.
To see what some of these emails would actually look like in your inbox, check out this detailed article by Norton.
Additional Coronavirus Scams
Unfortunately, phishing emails are not the only scams taking advantage of Coronavirus. There are several others you should be aware could affect your business.
A recent example we experienced was a client who received new toner with an invoice from someone other than us. The client recognized they had not recently ordered toner and the invoice was from a company other than Braden. They caught the mistake, did not pay the invoice, and returned the unopened toner to the address it came from.
Depending on the products your business purchases on a regular basis, you may be running into trouble finding these items in stock. As frustrating as that it, never buy from a new seller unless you have fully vetted them to be a trusted product source. And, never purchase anything through a website that is not secure.
We have all received robocalls, but these robocalls target small businesses and their concerns about COVID-19. They will use language such as “small businesses who have been affected by COVID-19…” and that’s an accurate statement for most of us. Hang up on unidentified numbers or just don’t answer them.
Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Scam
Knowing what types of phishing emails are circulating is helpful, but hackers adapt their methods quickly. It’s imperative you know how to handle incoming emails even if they don’t look like the ones mentioned above. We recommend the following:
- Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments.
- Pay special attention to the sender of an email, even if it looks like a trusted source. Specifically, look at the part of the email after the ‘@’ symbol in the ‘From’ line to verify their legitimacy.
- Use trusted sources—such as legitimate, government websites—for up-to-date, fact-based information about COVID-19.
- Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.
- Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations. Review the Federal Trade Commission’s page on Charity Scams for more information.
- If you get an odd email from your employer or coworker and are unable to identify whether it is fake, email that person and ask for clarification.
- Forward suspicious emails to your IT Team to let them know you were targeted. It is likely you were not the only one.
Mistakes happen, if you realize you have clicked a compromised link or downloaded a potential virus. Contact your IT Team immediately.
Trusted Coronavirus Sources
If you’re looking for reliable information on COVID-19, we recommend sticking with trusted sources. That would be your local and state government sites as well as the CDC, World Health Organization (WHO), and the National Institute of Health (NIH).
If you believe your business has been the victim of a phishing scam or you would like to increase your data security, Braden IT can help. We specialize in IT Managed Services including disaster recovery.