“These were all good practices before the age of COVID-19, of course, but with the sense of panic surrounding the virus, there’s good reason to be even more vigilant than usual.”
As with so many other crises, the COVID-19 pandemic is opening up new opportunities for fraudsters, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation is looking to keep people informed about the renewed risk of phishing attacks predicated on coronavirus panic.
In a new blog post on the organization’s website, the EFF explains that COVID-19 themed social media and email attacks have already begun to emerge. They target people with messaging suggesting that a given link will let them sign up for a vaccine, or that users must download special information about the virus, and so on – all in a bid to collect end users’ sensitive personal data, or get them to download trojan viruses or ransomware.
To help people avoid falling prey to such attacks, the EFF lays out several guidelines:
- Check a sender’s email address to see if it matches who they claim to be in the message.
- Hover over a link to see a link’s domain address before clicking.
- Don’t download anything from strangers.
- Ask for a co-worker’s opinion if something seems suspicious.
These were all good practices before the age of COVID-19, of course, but with the sense of panic surrounding the virus, there’s good reason to be even more vigilant than usual. Beyond the steps outlined above, the EFF also suggests that a healthy sense of skepticism in general is called for: if an email or social media message sounds too good to be true (such as one offering a free COVID-19 vaccine, for example), or if it demands urgent action, it may not be what it claims to be.
While vigilance about health and hygiene can help to keep people safe from the novel coronavirus, vigilance about phishing attempts can help keep their computers virus-free, too.