Coronavirus Themed Scams and Lies You Should Know 0 306

Scams demanding bitcoin on pain of infecting you with the coronavirus gain their fair share of shine among schemes with a thin veneer of plausibility

In our previous posts, we have talked much about how scammers and spammers are taking advantage of the current fear and confusion brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic to rip off unsuspecting victims. 

However, several ransomware gangs have now resorted to alternative tricks to stay afloat as folks are catching up with them. As an example, some of them are faking conscience by publicly announcing that they will avoid targeting healthcare providers within this pandemic period.

In the same vein, the heightened interest and round the clock bulletin of the pandemic across the globe isn’t making things better. Even the most slothful and unimaginative wannabe cybercriminals have been awakened, and now repackaging other’s or own shysterism and scams in COVID-19 wrappers. 

In this post, we provide you a few more Coronavirus associated scams that might come your way. Let’s dive in!

Blackmail threats

The use of blackmail in an attempt to coerce innocent victims to cough up some money isn’t something new among online fraudsters. Our sextortion scams post shows how a scammer can threaten you with “dire” consequences if you don’t pony up some specified amount of money (mostly in the form of bitcoins) to a provided address—for instance, leaking out a video of you watching porn to your list of contacts. 

Now, what happens when a global pandemic such as the COVID-19 disease strays into a sextortionist scope?

 The example below, perhaps?

Figure 1. Sextortion scam threatening embarrassment plus coronavirus infection for nonpayment

As we can see from the example, the threat goes beyond your typical sextortionist’s threat; it incorporates something current (COVID-19 pandemic).

However, in an amateurish way as it can’t convince a sensible soul. For instance, how the heck are they going to infect your family with the Coronavirus? Simply unrealistic, right?

Another interesting thing about the email is the tactical pairing of passwords gotten from publicly leaked account compromises so as to appear authentic.

Better still, the fraudsters have randomly replaced some of the characters in the message with Unicode homoglyphs (similar characters).

The second figure below highlights the replacements to show you how the scammers carefully selected the homoglyphs in order to convince you.

Figure 2. The same message with Unicode homoglyph replacements highlighted

If you ever receive such a scam mail threatening to infect you and your family with the virus, don’t even give it a second thought.

Those behind it are a bunch of clueless scumbags who don’t even have a clue regarding where to obtain appropriate COVID-19 samples, leave alone how to weaponize and deliver them. 

Plain dumb scams

Just like the previous illogical email, you may also be surprised to get an even dumber version.

For example, take a look at the following mail:

Figure 3. “I hate you, give me money” extortion scam

Not only were the composers lazy but also dumb or ignorant. As an example, how is the threat going to be carried out? 

Will the supposedly infected neighbor sneak out of their home in the dead of the night and cough on your exterior door handles or letterbox?

This is an example of some of the weirdest emails you may probably get from some low-life, dumb, lazy, or ignorant scumbags who don’t even have an idea about their kind of trade. 

For instance, the message doesn’t even state the required amount of money, due date, or any other conditions whatsoever.

Probably, the person behind such a scam is betting on a handful of scared recipients who will voluntarily give in to their demands.

Final thoughts

A closer check at the provided bitcoin addresses in the examples alongside others in similar online scams (by our team) indicates that neither of them had received any substantial payments. For example, one of them had transacted a single bitcoin payment whose amount equated to a measly US$0.04.

This shows how not so well thought out scams can be; however, they have the potential of spreading more fear and worry, especially at this particular time of heightened concern, which can cause more damage.

Therefore, instantly delete such emails or similar ones in case they hit your inbox. Otherwise, if you need more advice regarding this type of scams, among other consultations, then ESET has been here for you for over 30 years. We want to assure you that we will be here in order to protect your online activities during these uncertain times, too.

Protect yourself from threats to your security online with an extended trial of our award-winning software.

Try our extended 90-day trial for free.

Previous ArticleNext Article

How To Easily Set Up a VPN at Home 0 299

Woman working at home

As the COVID-19 pandemic has many organizations switching employees to remote work, a virtual private network is essential for countering the increased security risks

Probably, you have been forced to work from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak (recommended to reduce the spread of the virus). However, you are wondering how you will set up your VPN to enable secure communication.

Well, don’t agonize too much; we shall first explain to you what a VPN entails. And then, provide you with a step by step procedure for setting a basic Virtual Private Network. Here we go!

First, what is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

Essentially, a VPN is a private channel within a wider (open) network that enables you to communicate with your peers (other nodes with similar settings) without leaking your information through the use of encryption.

Besides, you can utilize a VPN to initiate communication through any network without revealing your location. In any case, a significant number of vendors deal with clients needing such services to avoid being tracked or be able to bypass particular network filters. 

However, in our case, we shall consider a home office VPN that will create a communication tunnel for your practical and secure home office communication.

Is it necessary to set up a virtual private network?

For there to be any communication between two endpoints ─ your pc and the computer in the main office –, they must be configured.

In this case, you’ll require the services of your IT department (if you have one), who will guide you regarding the applications to install, as well as provide you with VPN credentials depending on your needs. Upon installing and configuring the said app, you can automatically establish communication through the provided link. Easy-peasy, right?

On the other hand, if you don’t have an IT department behind your back, then you may have to do it yourself. These shouldn’t; however, scare you at all; it’s not as tough as you might imagine.

But before we explore the nitty-gritty of setting up the VPN, we first need to identify the options we have. In our case, we shall examine two options:

  • Open VPN: standard in small office/home office and business-class routers
  • IP Sec: Is Built-in and commonly used by desktops, smartphones, and laptops

The Open Virtual Private Network

This type of VPN has been around for a long time and has proved itself secure and reliable. It is ideal for small office/ house offices, as well as business-class routers, thanks to its open-source nature.

Procedure for installation

  1. On a contemporary device, go to the router’s configuration screen and click the relevant buttons to access your office network
  2. Download the configuration file generated by the router
  3. Use this file to configure/setup the OpenVPN in your pc, smartphone, or desktop that you want to use to access the Network behind that particular router. In case you get stuck somewhere, you can download or follow an online tutorial for your specific router.
  4. Download the required apps that will enable you to access your new home office VPN from this website.
  5. Install the downloaded applications and then configure them using the files generated when setting up the Open VPN on your office router.

In the event you find the going tough, you can always consult with an online tutorial or IT personnel.

Internet Protocol Security

IPsec is also another technology that has been in use for an extended period to provide reasonable security. It utilizes the same working principles as the OpenVPN; however, it is mostly used on lower-cost routers. Besides, it is a built-in technology in most desktops, laptops, and smartphones; therefore, it eliminates the need for installing another application on your device.

The installation process is similar to that one of OpenVPN. However, implementing a particular router IPsec can sometimes be a little more complicated compared to installing an open VPN.

Fortunately, with the use of native tools on your remote endpoints, you can offset this by just typing in a few things, such as the required IP address and credentials.

Final thoughts

Conclusively, these are some of the simplest virtual net protection options you can install on your home system without requiring massive/no input from IT experts.

Importantly, you will need a beefier than standard broadband for quick communication over the VPN. Also, you may experience slower connections due to the much horsepower required to keep the connection encrypted and tunneled. Nevertheless, this is a small price to pay in exchange for a secure home office communication.

In case you required any advice regarding VPN options or installation services, then 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 security online with an extended trial of our award-winning software.

Try our extended 90-days trial for free.

How To Improve Communication Security with MFA 0 698

Person working on two factor authentication

Remote work can be much safer with the basic cyber-hygiene practices in place – multi-factor authentication is one of them

If you are working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is essential to integrate two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication in your daily login routine. That way, you can beat fraudsters at their own game, since the security of your essentials isn’t wholly dependent on passwords alone.

The interesting bit with this technology is that you may have already seen it in action; for instance, when requesting access to your bank account via your smartphone. In this case, you must enter the one-time code sent to you in addition to your password to gain access.

See, enabling such double authentication processes on all your logins can make it difficult for scammers to access your accounts even if they compromise your passwords.

That said, you may now want to know which MFA option to use? Well, we take a look at some of the ways you can utilize MFA to bolster the security of your connections when working remotely.

  1. First, the use of a physical token

To implement this technique, you will require a physical device such as a security USB key, a key fob, or a similar item that will generate a secure code for verification purposes.

You’ll mostly be required to integrate this method if you need access to your cloud-based applications, online office applications, or corporate office technology. The YubiKey or Thetis is an example of such a device that you can purchase with less than US$50.

For convenience purposes, most of these devices are designed tiny; you can carry them in your pant pocket or hang them on a keychain for safety purposes. 

2. Use of a mobile phone

Most likely, you own a smartphone, right?

If yes, you can use it to boost your MFA security capabilities. For instance, you can download an authentication app such as Google Authenticator, ESET Secure Authentication, or Authy for your use.

The only caveat here is to ensure your source has a reputable security background. This is informed by the fact that the app is going to reside inside your smartphone, which is also vulnerable to security threats; therefore, robust security is required to avoid pre-emptying your security efforts.

Importantly, be on the lookout for spam messages when using your phone as they can trick you into compromising your accounts.

Fortunately, if you download applications from reputable sources, you can be offered a solution in case you have an issue with the platform itself.

3. Use of Biometrics

Factually, no single human being shares a fingerprint or retinal scan with another. This unique feature has been conveniently utilized overtime to provide robust multi-factor Authentication. 

You can also utilize the same to secure your connections.  For instance, you can take a picture of your face or scan your fingerprint using a biometric reader – currently, a common feature in smartphones or other devices ─, and then integrate it in your login procedure. These will prevent any other user from accessing your accounts or private information.

On the flip side, some folks feel that the technique is somehow creepy; therefore, give it a wide bath. Besides, it can present a challenge when you need to reset your bio features if your service provider is hacked.

Final thoughts

When scouting for a suitable MFA option for your needs, it is vital to consider one that can easily fit your routine. This stems from the fact that without proper utilization, an MFA option can’t protect you.

Similarly, an MFA technique can allow some side benefits as well. For instance, in the event of a security breach, you will be notified that your password has been interfered with; this can enable you to implement mitigation measures. Not only that, but you also get protected from the would-be attack since the fraudsters wouldn’t have access to your other factors.

In case you require a secure authentication application or consultation regarding MFA options, then 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 security online with an extended trial of our award-winning software. 

Try our extended 90-days trial for free.