Week 1 of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
October 2020 is the 17th year of organizations promoting National Cybersecurity Awareness Month to help their users be safer and more secure online.
This article is from the National Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2020 series.
Cybercriminals know that the best time to turn a "phish" into a catch is when life gets overwhelming. They see COVID-19 as a gold mine.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of fraudulent emails and text messages spiked by more than 667%. And as long as COVID sticks around, scammers will try to use it to their advantage.
What Can You Do?
You can stay current with the latest info on COVID-19 without getting scammed, you just need to be careful. Scammers have created hundreds of thousands of fake “COVID-19” phishing websites. Only visit websites you trust such as the Center for Disease Control’s official site (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html), or your local county or state health department websites.
If you’re unsure about a website, you can always use this free Google tool to see if it’s safe: https://transparencyreport.google.com/safe-browsing/search.
Be A Little Skeptical
Cybercriminals try to grab our attention with COVID-19-related phishing emails on subjects like these:
- Contact tracing - “Someone who came in contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19. Officials recommend you self-isolate and get tested. Visit the link within the email to learn more.”
- Relief funds - “The FCC Financial Care Center is offering you $30,000 in COVID-19 relief. Claim using the link within this email .”
- Cures - “Amazing COVID cure discovered. There’s hope! Sign-up for the trial by clicking on the link in this email ASAP!!!”
Know that scammers can use these same tactics to grab your attention through texting, phone calls, and other services in order to manipulate you. Always be wary of offers that seem suspicious or just too good to be true.
Look for the warning signs of someone trying to manipulate you. Dead giveaways include fake URLs, pressuring you to act immediately, urging you to click a hyperlink, or asking you to provide personal or financial information. Remember that government agencies will never contact you to ask for personal information or money directly over phone or email.