From malware-laden emails to fake donations, these are some of the most common cons you should watch out for amid this public health crisis
It’s beyond reasonable doubt that the COVID-19 disease has transformed itself into a pandemic that has thrown the world into a tailspin. Panic is palpable than ever before, and as a result, has led to market closures, travel bans, lockdowns, and panic buying.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals are taking advantage of this chaotic situation to defraud the vulnerable. With more than 60,000 deaths witnessed across the globe due to the virus, fraudsters are finding an opportune moment for launching their fraudulent campaigns, usually disguised as humanitarian interventions.
Therefore, the big question is, how do you sniff potential scammers a mile away? Fret not, in this post, we share some of the common despicable tactics (as identified by the ESET research team) that are currently being used by scammers to defraud innocent souls.
To appear as
convincing as possible, the current retinue of scammers have resorted to
impersonating authoritative sources, especially those concerned with
disseminating news regarding the virus. Such include the world health
organization (WHO) among many other firms.
As such, they will send you emails purporting to come from these sources that contain “vital information” regarding the disease to hoodwink you into clicking on their malicious links. Usually, such links may steal your personal information, install malware on your machine, or try to capture your password and login credentials.
Nevertheless, the good thing is that most of these organizations are aware of such fraudulent activities. And in a bid to end them, have come to the open regarding the issue. For instance, the WHO, on its website, offers advice on how it communicates and also elaborates on what to expect from their official emails.
As an example,
one of the significant points reads:
the sender has an email address such as ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. If there is anything
other than ‘who.int’ after the ‘@’ symbol, this sender is not from WHO. WHO
does not send emails from addresses ending in ‘@who.com’, ‘@who.org,’ or
‘@who-safety.org,’ for example.”
What’s more, the organization advises that all its web content starts with https://www.who.int/ only, no other domain is used. Therefore, be sure to check on the URL of the email sent to you before clicking on it. If in doubt, input the address directly onto your browser to get the results. Most importantly, the WHO cannot start sending you emails without your subscription or prompt.
Alternatively, you can get real information from your usual trusted sources, but not from unsolicited emails.
In another case (as shown in the image below), the fraudsters are trying to impersonate the wall street journal by establishing a visually similar site (phishing site).
From the image,
you can notice that the URL starts with ‘worldstreet’ while the wording on the
webpage indicates ‘world street,’ which is a red flag.
By creating such a site, they trick people into believing that they are the real wall street journal, therefore gain some revenue from the advertisements placed there. Though the site may not track your credentials, the money generated goes to the wrong hands.
2. Appeal for donation
In another attempt to outsmart the would-be victims, cybercriminals are now packaging themselves as “genuine souls” out there to help in the war against the virus. For instance, in a recent scam, fraudsters were attempting to persuade their audience to contribute towards the development of a vaccine for children in China.
An interesting fact about this example is that the perpetrators are riding on the popularity of an existing campaign by re-purposing its content with Coronavirus details. In another 2019 publication, we talked about how criminals were threatening their victims in an attempt to extort money from them.
Often, such corona themed scams will request you to send your donations in the form of bitcoins to a particular fraudster’s wallet. Though the trick might work on a few people, if done on a global scale can rake in colossal sums of money, which makes it attractive to the criminals.
3. Dubious purchases
The increasing demand for particular products such as face masks and hand sanitizers due to the pandemic has resulted in their short supply. Naturally, this has attracted fraudsters who, according to Sky News, have conned around £800,000 (US$1 million) from United Kingdom residents within February alone.
In an attempt to
steal your money, the fraudsters will send you spam emails purporting to help
you secure face masks. In case you unwittingly click on the provided links,
your financial and personal credentials will be revealed to the fraudsters.
Therefore, you should always be on the lookout for such claims, and only purchase such items from a trusted dealer.
examples of a few tactics currently being used by cybercriminals in their
attempts of defrauding people their hard-earned money as a result of the
current confusion brought about the COVID-19 stalemate.
Thus, as a
business or individual, you need to remain vigilant regarding such antics, not
only during such emergencies but also during other times.
As a way of
minimizing your chances of falling victim to such schemes, you can always
practice some of the following basics:
Be worrisome of emails
containing alarming messages regarding the pandemic and the need for immediate
action; for instance, ordering for a vaccine or cure via the provided links.
Avoid replying to unknown
messages requiring your credentials; for example, those needing your bank
details and identification number, among other sensitive information.
Be proactive at identifying
potential crowd-funding or fraudulent campaigns.
It’s no longer a secret that the current upsurge of the Coronavirus
pandemic has disrupted normal operations in a lot of companies. An increasing
number of workers are being forced to work from home or any other convenient
places away from their company premises.
However, due to a sharp increase in the search volumes for the term Coronavirus, malicious developers are updating their toolkits with malicious links, sites, and Coronavirus-themed scams to capitalize on unsuspecting victims.
Therefore, as an employee working from home, you need to enforce
adequate measures to counter such cybercrime threats. In this post, we take a
look at five sure tips that can help you secure your home network. Let’s dig
Check the default settings in your
Your home router is the engine of your home network. Without it,
your PC can’t communicate with others on the net. This makes them a primary
target for any cybercriminal out there.
In most cases, hackers will try to hack into your home router, and
if successful, hijack your Wi-Fi traffic and finally have access to your
To prevent such an occurrence, you need to check your router’s
settings and change the defaults. This means that you will first need to gain
access to your router’s control panel before you make the changes.
Here are the steps:
Open your browser and switch on your home network
Type something like http://192.168.1.1 in your browser
From the router configuration center page, you will be directed to change all the settings that can affect your security. For instance, your default user-names and passwords currently in your router.
Change your SSID (name of your home network), which stems from the fact that cybercriminals can use it to launch an attack. Case in point, taking a look at the SSIDs of Wi-Fi networks detected from my apartment shows that many of my neighbors are using Huawei routers; which can be free fodder for an attacker.
To create strong and unique passwords, you can utilize the ESET password manager. One significant advantage of using such is that you don’t need to remember a lot. A single long phrase can be used to manage all your other account passwords with a few clicks.
2. Kick-off any unwanted devices from your home network
Unrecognized devices hovering around your home network pose a significant threat to your system, as they can access your vital documents and credentials without your knowledge.
To fix this situation, you can subscribe to ESET Smart Security Premium, where you’ll enjoy the services of a home connected scanning tool, which can identify pesky neighbors who have been secretly using your Wi-Fi connection. After which you can flush them out from your network and finally change your passwords.
3. Get the latest firmware for your home router – or purchase a new one in case you have a legacy router
A recent discovery
by the ESET team of how Wi-Fi chips are vulnerable to attacks brings to the
fore, the importance of continually updating your home router’s system software
to the latest manufacturer’s standards.
If you discover that you’re utilizing a legacy router, then it’s
time you should opt for a new home router.
This impressive technology provided by ESET enables the router to
detect and block malware, phishing sites, as well as other threats that might
invade your home network system.
For more information about the current configuration options for your home router, you can check out this blog post.
4. Communicate through a virtual private network
To discreetly pass information over public networks to evade the
ever-present prying eyes, you can enlist the services of a VPN.
It provides a safe tunnel for communication by encrypting your data
and sending them in small packets across the network. Decryption only happens
at the end of the tunnels, which ensures that your data is safe.
5. Make use of the two-factor authentication (2FA) to secure your remote access
Factually, the Remote desktop protocol (RDP) responsible for the
security of remote systems has often been prone to attacks, especially where no
proper protection is in place.
Cybercriminals, for instance, can hack a system’s RDP through brute-forcing
their way in or social engineering passwords out of employees.
Fortunately, with technology such as theESET Secure Authentication or ESET’s two-factor authentication (2FA) solution, you can secure doubly remote access technologies such as the RDP and VPN, as well as employee credentials.
The double layer of protection emanates from the fact that a 2FA
solution requires an employee to enter a one-time code that is delivered to
them through an authentication app or SMS, in addition to the usual corporate
user-name and password.
As a result, an attacker can not have access to your information or
credentials even if they compromise your password.
Having a cyber secure home office is the way to go if companies are to realize their end goals without suffering significant setbacks due to the prevalent data security threats. ESET has been here for you for over 30 years. We want to assure you that we will be here to protect your online activities during these uncertain times, too. Protect yourself from threats to your online security with an extended trial of our award-winning software.