The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is spreading at an increasing rate. As at the time of writing this piece, the global death toll had surpassed 207, 000, and the numbers are constantly rising. As the number of COVID-19 cases rises, the coronavirus scam rises in tandem. During this time of crisis, hackers are poised to exploit weaknesses created by employees using their own devices, remote working, and other factors to steal data and money via ransomware.
Phishing assaults on mobile devices and other platforms have been on the rise in recent weeks. According to Barracuda Networks, there were a total of 467,825 spear-phishing email attacks detected between March 1 and March 23, with 9,116 of them being coronavirus-related.
So, how exactly does a phishing scam work? Hackers send emails that appear to be from genuine organizations, giving coronavirus facts and information.
How does coronavirus scam look like?
Coronavirus scams are mainly carried out using smartphone phishing attempts with harmful links that are cleverly concealed inside a seemingly innocent email or message.
Emails with harmful links or attachments are sent by attackers. The message appears to contain critical information and encourages you to open a file or click on a link. If you click on any of these, harmful software will most likely be installed on your device.
An example of a hoax email impersonating the World Health Organization is shown below (WHO).
Another example below is a payment method that is aimed towards businesses.
Why phishing attacks on mobile devices rise during a crisis?
Attackers rely on deception to succeed. To be successful, they construct communications that elicit a sense of urgency in the recipients, prompting them to click on links and give critical information. A situation like COVID-19 provides those attackers with a unique opportunity to inflict significant harm.
People are looking for information and directions from the government or other relevant authorities during an emergency. They are more inclined to fill in the gaps, click on links, and download attachments when they receive a communication that appears to come from a trustworthy source. Following one such activity, the victim’s machine becomes infected, resulting in coronavirus frauds.
“Now that people are stressed out, fraudsters are exploiting every angle of attack,” according to an Acronis blog. “They’re capitalizing on people’s natural fear of COVID-19 and their desperate quest for information.” Acronis has experienced a considerable surge in cryptojacking in the previous two weeks, and ransomware attacks are also on the rise.”
In the previous several weeks, the number of users affected by cryptojackers has increased dramatically.
People are currently experiencing confusion and panic as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. This opens up additional opportunities for fraudsters to prey on unsuspecting victims.
How to avoid coronavirus scam and phishing attacks in three steps?
You may defend yourself from the spread of the coronavirus scam in the same way you protect yourself from the true coronavirus. Here are a few things you can do to stay safe:
1 Keep a check on communications from sources you don’t trust
These are most likely phishing attacks on gadgets and smartphones. When working remotely during a pandemic, the flood of information we get, combined with the stress of the job, might make us lose our guard, and we are more likely to accept emails and click on links from organizations that appear to be trustworthy.
Examine messages from sources you don’t get on a regular basis as a general guideline. Be wary of messages from unknown senders or people from your organization, such as the CEO, who do not normally engage with you directly.
Fake example of such an email sent to our company that appears to be from our CEO but is not.
2 Build a strong cybersecurity awareness program
To avoid being victimized by a phishing assault or a coronavirus fraud, you can employ cyber security solutions like Acronis. In addition, from time to time, arrange security training sessions.
Develop behaviors that allow employees to recognize the signs of a phishing attempt and what they can do if they become a victim.
For example, the IT and security teams can send out harmless phishing emails to employees on a regular basis to see how they react. Anyone who falls victim to it should receive follow-up emails detailing how they fell for the phishing scams, what they should do instead, and a reminder to be more cautious in the future. Checking spelling problems in emails, browsing safely online, and so on are some other recommendations to give with your employees.
In addition, it’s critical to assess the danger posed by employees in and around your company.
3 Plan a new approach of cyber protection
The execution of defensive actions to protect a perimeter is central to many cybersecurity methods. Artificial intelligence is now commonly used in phishing attacks to get beyond these perimeters and get access to critical systems or corporate operations.
In this case, an advanced ransomware security solution that focuses on the data as well as the perimeter is essential. This will protect your company’s equipment against the most dangerous types of malware that utilize phishing scams to spread ransomware.
One such option is Acronis. You can secure data in Exchange Online (including In-Place Archives), OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint Online with Acronis by ZNetLive. You can combat ransomware using Acronis Active Protection, the backup industry’s most advanced AI-based anti-ransomware solution.
Windows, Mac, Microsoft Hyper-V, Linux KVM, VMware vSphere, Red Hat Enterprise, Amazon EC2, Azure VMs, Office 365, SharePoint, SQL Server, and many other platforms are supported by Acronis Backup.
If someone in an organization falls for a phishing scam, a cybersecurity solution like this can save the company from data loss and downtime.
Let’s all work together to stop scams like these from spreading, and remember to stay wise and safe!
Let us know how you protect yourself from phishing scams. Do you have a plan in place to deal with this? Experts are on hand to assist you!