Cybercriminals will always exploit the headlines, and they have not stopped with the Coronavirus. In this pandemic, we need to be extra skeptical about emails and social media. Hackers are always trying to take advantage of our fears and emotions. There are many new schemes and scams out there, some of them cleverly real. Here are some tips that cybersecurity expert John Sileo told us about that will help you to be on guard.
One tip is to watch out for all kinds of misleading information: “government advisory” that aren’t actually issued by governments, as well as maps of Coronavirus outbreaks that come from unknown sources that could lead you to click on them. Hackers are out to steal stimulus checks, they phish with bogus home remedies to cure the virus, and many products meant to defraud you. There are myriad emails that try to scam you into clicking on links with real-sounding alerts, maybe from your hometown or your school system or a policy change at work. “Click here for your COVID-19 test results!” Sileo says there are cyber hygiene tips to help you protect yourself.
First, Sileo says, if you don’t recognize the sender of an email or a text, or you do and you weren’t expecting it or it doesn’t sound like them, don’t click on it. Don’t respond to it. Send a separate email to the sender asking if it is actually them. “Same advice for social media, articles, videos. Don’t believe them until you verify,” he said. “Do that before you take any action.”
Second, encrypt and back up your computer to a physical back-up drive, in addition to any cloud-based back-up. Then if your laptop is ever locked up for ransom by cybercriminals, you can simply shut it down and replace the data in the physical drive. No need to pay ransom for your own information.
Third, trust only sources like the CDC, the World Health Organization, local news you know, and the newspapers that you trust. Verify before believing information. Prepare in advance for being fooled, so you won’t be.