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Cybercrime Epidemic Riding Alongside COVID-19

Since January when coronavirus fatalities started making the news, hackers have been trying to capitalize on the hysteria surrounding the evolving pandemic. From spam campaigns to ransomware attacks, no individual or entity can escape the outbreak of cybercrime associated with COVID-19.

Last week alone, there was an attempted DDoS attack against the US Department Health & Human Services, and a UK-based medical research company poised to conduct COVID-19 vaccine trials was the target of a MAZE ransomware attack. When the company refused to pay the ransom, hackers leaked sensitive patient data including proof of identification and medical backgrounds. Months ago, enterprising criminals started purchasing domain names related to coronavirus. Over the past months, a plethora of fraudulent sites have launched; some offer (malicious) COVID-19 tracking apps while others are bogus online stores for masks and sanitization supplies or even vaccines. Spam emails and texts masquerading as urgent coronavirus updates are delivering a host of malware or ransomware. Where will it end?

2020 is shaping up to be a banner year for cybercrime as people rely more heavily on digital communications and tools related to the coronavirus epidemic. With more people working from home, collaboration platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams may become targets. There are some cybersecurity practices that can help flatten the cybercrime curve and thwart hackers preying on the anxiety of the times.

When using work collaboration platforms:

  • Require a password to join meetings and ensure staff are aware of who has joined a meeting to ensure uninvited guests are not present.

  • Be aware of screen sharing. When joining a remote meeting ensure you have nothing sensitive or confidential open on your computer which could be viewed by accident.

  • Be especially careful when granting remote control of your computer to anyone in a meeting.

On a personal level:

  • Don’t let the stress of this extended crisis cloud your judgement. Clicking on a link from an unverified source is not something you would normally do so don’t do that now.

  • Heads-up: there is no such thing as a free app—there always is a cost for use. What seems innocuous like giving up personal information is more dangerous than ever. Even worse, you could become the victim of ransomware and get locked out of your device.

  • A password manager is the order of the day.

  • Get your COVID-19 news from reliable trusted sources.

Everyone is pitching in to help control the spread of the deadly coronavirus. You can do your part to manage the spread of cybercrime that is riding along its side.

#COVID19 #Cybersecurity #Coronavirus

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