Phishing Scams on the Rise During COVID-19 Pandemic

Cell phone hack concept. Closeup of smartphone with hacked inscription and death skull icon lying on laptop keyboard.

As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we are distracted. There is an endless volume of information coming which is leaving a lot of people stressed, and concerned, and we are more connected on our devices as we spend more time working and socializing virtually. The combination of these factors makes most of us very vulnerable to phishing scams, online schemes, and cyberattacks by cybercriminals capitalizing on the situation. There is a heightened risk right now, so it’s important to stay vigilant.

Taking Advantage of Employees Working from Home

Plenty of phishing scams are attempting to take advantage of employees working from home. They are working to steal login credentials to target the businesses they work for. They are sending fake login pages, sending emails asking for information verification, and all of it can seem very legitimate. With the potential distraction and routine change of working from home, as well as using personal devices or fewer security systems, remote employees can open their company up to attacks and threats easily and unknowingly.

Other Phishing Scams

Phishing scams target individuals as well. Some scammers claim to be from government agencies or public health. They encourage recipients to click links for updates on benefits, the current spread, or local advisories. Some claim that contract tracing has identified a possible exposure and asks the recipient to click a link or provide information to confirm. These unsolicited texts and emails prey on fear and our desire for more information. More of us are becoming more cautious about providing sensitive information, but cyber criminals adjust their behavior as well. Once you click a link from a text or email, you have opened yourself to malware. Some scams offer hard to find materials, such as masks, supplements, or cleaning and sanitizing supplies at low prices. However, once you enter your information, the products never arrive, are counterfeit, or worse, were only there to steal your credit card information.

Avoid Being a Victim: Cyber Security Best Practices to Protect Your Privacy Online

The first step to avoid being a victim is to be aware of the heightened risk and adjust your behavior accordingly. Do not click on links automatically upon receiving them, no matter how official they may look at first glance. Look at any text or email critically before providing any information or clicking any links. A quick search can tell you where the communication came from and will give you the indication if it is legitimate or a scam. Only order from known companies that you can trust. Visit official websites directly for the most up to date information you know you can trust. Do not provide any information to a company without investigating thoroughly. Create unique usernames and passwords for each account to ensure that one potential breach does not open you up to more.

If a message plays on fear or urgency, includes spelling or grammar errors, asks for personal information, encourages clicking a link, or originates from a suspicious email address, it is likely a phishing scam. Some are quite obvious, but others take steps to cover their tracks. It’s a good idea to approach any unsolicited message with suspicion.

Employers need to remind employees of their cybersecurity practices. Remote working should not change protocol. Employees need to stop, review the messages in detail, and verify via a phone call. Employers may want to create policies regarding remote work, specifically when it comes to using personal devices.

There will always be those who try to take advantage in stressful and turbulent times. By being aware of your risk, you can take measures to ensure that you will not fall victim to phishing scams that will create even more chaos in your life. If you’re wondering how secure your online safety measures are, contact AccuShred for guidance on how to assess your current strategies.