Guest Post: ESET Illustrates Why COVID Has Been A Blessing For Scammers

While most people have banded together and done what has needed to be done to get ahead of the COVID-19 virus, it hasn’t – unfortunately — been universal. 

As has been said, some people just want to watch the world burn. As people across the world have united to look after those around them in this time of emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how ruthless scammers can be. Across the world — Canada included — scams are on the rise during the COVID period. 

This period of crisis has actually provided a series of advantages to malicious actors, who have ramped up their operations in order to capitalise on the crisis. But good people are not defenceless against these actions. ESET, an industry-leading IT security company, offers some insight into the most prevalent scams that have emerged during the pandemic and, most important, what people can do to protect themselves. 

  • Sense of Panic — It’s dangerous, but scammers don’t care — they aim to create a sense of panic. One of the most common attempts during the pandemic has been SMS scams that falsely inform people they have contracted COVID-19. They message tells people they have been near someone who tested positive and they should get tested, but it them directs people to a sire that aims to gain bank details and other personal information. 

Protect Yourself — It is often easy to spot a dodgy email or suspicious web page when thinking calmly, but we understand rational thought process can go by the wayside in a time of panic. This is what scammers are trying to exploit. Before providing any personal details, take a few deep breaths and approach it with a calm mind so that you can assess whether it is legit, or not. 

  • Changing Norms — COVID-19 has changed our daily routine and norms. Scammers take advantage of this with schemes that, in normal times, may seem absurd, but may be less obvious during a pandemic when everything has been turned on its head. People are even more vulnerable during a crisis when governments actually are sending out email and text messages to keep people informed. Scammers don’t hesitate to add their phishing messages to the mix. 

Protect Yourself — Admittedly, phishing emails can be difficult to spot on a mobile device. But there are security measures you can put in place for added protection. ESET Mobile Security comes with an anti-phishing feature, taking much of the guesswork out of suspicious texts or emails. Always check the sender’s information before clicking on any links, and try to authenticate the link before clicking on it. To be extra safe, go directly to the company or organization’s website via a fresh search on your browser. 

  • Working from Home — The shift to remote work provided a major advantage to cyber criminals. Having workers on their home networks has increased their vulnerability to attack, resulting in an increase in malware and phishing, and hacking of video conferencing platforms. The most infamous example was the “Zoombombing” phenomena, where hackers broke into Zoom meetings to display graphic content to unsuspecting participants.

Protect Yourself — Step 1 is to keep all of your software updated. If a vulnerability is noticed, the company will often provide an update the resolve the issue. But that update is useless if you don’t actually apply it. If possible, select the “auto-update” feature on your computer so that it just happens automatically. Step 2 is installing antivirus and cybersecurity software. These tools make the battle against phishing and malware vastly easier. To find out which software is best for you, check out the range of cybersecurity solutions on our website

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