Cause, Prevention and Solution for Covid-19 phishing and ransomware attacks

COVID 19 literally got everyone to stay home to protect themselves from the virus.

With curfews, lockdowns, and sealing off areas taking place, this virus has enforced citizens like you to stay home and continue your daily life.

Your work has been affected. Every action you conduct with your organization has gone virtual and more digital. With brilliant apps, you can now engage with your peers better and with video conferencing apps, seeing your peers face to face ‘virtually’ has been made possible.

Now, this is all great, but have you felt a pinch of fear when it comes to security? 

Table of Content

1. How to spot suspicious COVID-19 activities?

2. Examples of suspicious COVID 19 activities

3. Precautions to avoid suspicious COVID-19 activities

4. Impact of VPNs during COVID-19 activities

You are working from home and it isn’t like your office. At your workplace, everything is secured. When you’re browsing or saving files, you don’t have any fear because you know that your connection is secure, but now since your home, are you that confident?

The COVID 19 phrases, lines, sentences have been typed every minute because everyone wants to be updated with the latest status information. Due to this reason alone, hackers are on the rise. 

They are aware that they can send a link or an email and citizens can click on it to learn more about the news being spread.

This is a huge problem because in an air where chaos is present, conducting multiple clicks to learn about COVID 19 can drag many users to a huge consequence.

You need to be aware of how you can identify them and prevent them. You need to have that confidence when you work from home whilst being updated with the COVID19 information from the right sources. 

This is important because your one click can help hackers steal all your vital information, which includes your business or work data as well.

Let’s break down the issue and find possible solutions to help prevent you from falling into this trap.


How to spot suspicious COVID-19 activities?

 

1. Sources of information are doubtful

You need to understand which are the relevant sources. All relevant sources will be evident to you such as WHO and more. For instance, any news from the government or health departments will have their name in the ending of the links such as .gov. 

When you have the list of all the relevant sources of information you can rely on, you immediately tend to eliminate the other links which provide the same information.

2. Email addresses don’t seem valid

Any email addresses you receive needs to be checked thoroughly. Don’t go on to click any email link. First, understand what is written, whether the email address is valid, you can do that by clicking ‘Compose’, pasting the email address in the ‘to’ section and then clicking on the id. If you see all the symbols in blue, then that email id is relevant.

3. Asking your personal information

If you believe that the email or the information you view is asking your personal details, immediately back off. Think of it, why would anyone want your personal information in return for some COVID 19 data when that information can also be grasped elsewhere? Stay away from such actions to keep yourself guarded.

Interesting Read : Countries are using greater surveillance measures to track Covid-19. What are they tracking?

4. Individuals acting suspiciously

Since you are now going to be working from home, you won’t stop engaging with other brands and prospects. Between these two there will be someone who might be a hacker, observe any such activities and ensure that you are away from them. 

5. Asking to conduct download activities

If you are being asked to download COVID 19 apps or any other links which can lead you to the COVID 19 page, until and unless it is from a source that you are confident about, refrain from conducting any actions to it. 

6. Finding small errors

Lastly, if you find anything suspicious such as the links have a mistake or the information being sent to you has multiple grammatical errors or that the emphasis is more on grasping your personal data instead of helping you learn about the virus, immediately stay away from all of them.

Let’s give you a few examples to explain to you better about the above situation.


Examples of suspicious COVID 19 activities

Hello.

We have urgent information about the CORONAVIRUS(COVID-19). VBS presentation in rar.

The attachment contains a document with safety and coronavirus prevention instructions, also instructions from the U.S. Department of Health on how to get the vaccine for FREE.

Send this information to all your loved ones as soon as possible.

rar password : 1234567

=================================

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

200 Independence Avenue, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20201

Toll Free Call Center: 1-800-368-1019

TTD Number: 1-800-537-7697

 

In the first example, as you can see this email itself gives you a self-doubt, why do you need a password in the first place to access it? Source: eff.org

This information needs to be free. Identify whether a vaccine has been found first and even if it’s found first, why are you receiving for free and not the ones who are affected?

Also, why is there a sense of urgency? This is exactly what a scam email looks like.

The outbreak of Coronavirus is a rapidly developing situation and is likely to affect many travel plans over the coming months. We strongly recommend that anyone travelling or planning to travel takes guidance from the Foreign and Commonwealth office:

https;//eff.org/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-staff

The WHO’s designation of coronavirus as a pandemic yesterday has significant implications for the operation of insurance policy cover and these are clearly posing unprecedented challenges. 

The team have put together some advice for you based on current activities:

I am travelling to a country where there has been an outbreak?

If the WHO advise against travel to the area you are visiting then in the first instance you should contact your travel operator or medical practitioner to reschedule or ask for a protective tips. MOST REPORTED CASES SAVES LIFES.

Kindly take a break and read the attached articles on our site and futher refrences on the issue for our staff

https;//www.google.com/tips/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

You remember when this article stated that if you find any information or link having a mistake, you need to get away from it. This example showcases it. Source: eff.org

Take a look at the links, why does https have a ; instead of : ? Also, the last paragraph, since when did the word ‘further’ become ‘further’? This is another example you need to keep in mind to avoid such minute mishaps.

Hi ______,

Kindly check the latest information about COVID-19 [Corona Virus]

https://www.[xxxxxx].edu/content/covid-19-coronavirus-information.pdf

The Trustees of [xxxxxx] University | Health Team

In this example, the mistake is evident. Where is the university name? This is another situation for you to identify and eliminate.Source: eff.org

The above situations and examples can help you to spot the phishing and ransomware attacks better, but just identifying them isn’t enough, you need to also work on eliminating them or rather taking the precautions to prevent them.

This can be conducted easily if you start to apply the practices right NOW.


Precautions to avoid suspicious COVID-19 activities

 

1. Constantly updating software

Did you know that if you don’t update your software regularly, you are under a risk of hackers affecting your activities? The reason why you need to update your software frequently is because the updates can help strengthen your actions better. With updates, you are improving or rather enhancing your activities with the use of the software.

2. Accessing information online from relevant sources only

Not every website or source is fake or spam, there are relevant sources too. As stated earlier, when you start to keep a count of the original sources and follow them for updates or other information, you automatically start to rely on them which means that the minute you see a source which isn’t in your list, you understand that it isn’t the right one.

Interesting Read : 20 Free things you can do online when you’re stuck at home

3. Any attachments or emails being received should be thoroughly scanned

Not everyone wants to help you with the right intentions. Your hackers could put on a fake act and say that when you click the attachment in that email, you will receive all the information you need but what actually happens is, when you click on that attachment, you are opening the doors to them entering your system. 

Always recheck any unknown email you receive. Ensure that the email address is valid and the content is error-free.

4. Use reliable softwares to prevent phishing and ransomware

Another great way to prevent phishing and ransomware activities is to enforce the use of efficient softwares such as antivirus or spam protection and more. When you indulge in such softwares you are saving your system from falling in the trap. 

You are able to be free from any risks that will cause damage to your system and affect your work activities. 

5. No sharing of personal information

If you are asked to share your email address, say NO. If you’re asked to share your contact number, say NO. If you’re asked to share any details that can further cause you any damage or consequence, say NO.

Always safeguard your personal information and do not share it with anyone for any reason. 

With the information mentioned above, you can be assured that identifying and preventing phishing and ransomware actions have now become easier. While the above precautions will help you there is another solution which can also benefit your current situation.

From ensuring that you work from home securely to protecting your data from unwanted views, this solution can be a beneficial investment from your end.


Impact of VPNs during COVID-19 activities

 

Prevention for Covid-19 Phishing

Source: ibvpn

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is the modern solution which will suit the businesses of today. 

A VPN functions in two ways, first it ensures that your online activities are always encrypted which means that more safety for your information and secondly it also ensures that your online activities are always conducted anonymously. 

For instance, say you work as a writer in your company, for you to write an exceptional article, you need to get the right information which can enhance your content and make it stand out better than your competitors. The obvious step here would be to research. 

Now when you conduct that research you would be doing so from websites or sources that can give you quality information.

Interesting Read : 13 brillant hacks to make your ‘Work From Home’ efficient and well balanced

But not all of them will give you the access, some of them would be restricted. Now instead of you breaking through and getting your IP address blocked, you can use a VPN instead. With the VPN, you can access all those restricted sources anonymously. 

So for example, say those sources will only allow users access to their own countries, for instance, Spain, so when you use a VPN your country location will reflect Spain as well.

Your IP address will be hidden and no one will ever know who or where you are precisely. 

When you work from home, the most important factor is you require a secure connection. When your connection is secure, even when sitting at home you have no fear of being tapped by hackers. 

Due to the COVID 19 situation, your work from home may be extended but that doesn’t mean your work needs to be stopped. With a VPN, you can easily experience faster internet connection which is more secure and gives you the confidence to always remain safe in whatever activities you wish to conduct for your work. 


The Bottom Line…

The COVID-19 crisis will end but it’s going to take time. 

What is important that you take all the measures needed to help your business grow better during such times. The growth will be slow but it’s not impossible. With the above measures taken into consideration, as a team, you will be able to conduct efficient processes without any risk or hassles.

Also, as stated earlier, investing in a VPN service is the wisest decision today and in such a situation. When choosing a VPN service, ensure that its security, speed, and reliability are taken into consideration.

Continue functioning better with VPN services and apart from that remain healthy and stay home to cure the virus faster.

So, tell us, what did you think of the article? Was it helpful? Do you have anything to add further? We would like to hear from you. 

A Complete gamer and a Tech Geek. Brings out all her thoughts and love in writing blogs on IOT, software, technology etc