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INTERNET | 20.03.2020

Do you know how to protect yourself from scams and criminals during the pandemic?

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The coronavirus pandemic is a window of opportunity for criminals looking to prey on businesses and individuals. Scams, theft, phishing, malware… don’t miss these recommendations to protect you and yours.

These difficult times, where information is key and many of us are working remotely, provide an opportunity for criminals to prey on businesses and individuals. Below are a series of recommendations to help reduce the risk that we are all facing during this time of crisis:

Scams and burglaries: These criminals mainly prey on the most vulnerable — the elderly. They visit homes pretending to be healthcare workers, wearing standard uniforms and bearing accreditation that appears to be from public health authorities or other official bodies. They offer fake at-home coronavirus tests and even disinfection services, but instead end up scamming and/or stealing from their victims.

To protect ourselves:

  • Remember that professionals will never turn up at your home without an appointment, which will only be made after health authorities have completed a risk assessment and determined the need to visit. The police therefore recommend taking extra precautions and being less trustful of such situations. If in doubt, don’t open your door and call the center to verify the visit.

Phishing: This is a set of techniques where someone aims to deceive us by pretending to be a person, company or service that we trust, with the ultimate goal of stealing sensitive personal information such as banking credentials. The public concern caused by the pandemic means that phishing campaigns are being launched incessantly, with terms and phrases relating to COVID-19 being used in subject lines, thus prompting concerned recipients to open the email click on the link.

To protect ourselves:

  • Be extra careful with emails that you receive about COVID-19 and disregard anything that hasn’t come from official sources. Do not click on any links or open any files attached to emails that you find suspicious. The same also applies to messages sent by SMS, WhatsApp, etc.
  • Disregard any emails requesting donations for victims or asking you to invest in companies that claim they can put a stop to the virus.
  • Never reply to senders that you think might be suspicious or who are unknown to you; instead, use another channel or different address to contact the potential sender.

Malware (or malicious software): This is a general term for any type of software intended to cause harm. Most online threats are malware of some kind.

To take advantage of current interests and public concern, malicious apps or websites offering news or maps on the situation are being developed and shared. Their ultimate goal is to steal your most sensitive information, such as passwords, bank details, contact details, etc.

The most well-known example at the minute is Corona-Virus-Map.com, which contains a Trojan that opens up the door to our computers for criminals.

To protect ourselves:

  • Do not download apps to monitor the pandemic or visit untrusted websites. Use monitoring maps provided by the main media outlets to stay informed.