The COVID-19 pandemic is still very much active in most countries around the world, and cyber criminals are actively exploiting it for their own personal gain. It is safe to assume that the cyber security world will face long term effects as well. What will they be, and how can we prepare ourselves?
While the world is struggling with COVID-19’s spread, and many cybercriminals are profiting from people’s fears, we are already seeing major changes in the way businesses operate – changes that will most likely have an impact long after this situation is over and we all return to our normal lives.
Several effects that we might face in the near future are:
- COVID-19 related misinformation – While the spread of misinformation and fake news is already widely occurring today, as the world fights the spread of the virus, we will continue to see examples of it long after the last infected person is cured. However, the focus of misinformation will probably shift from virus outbreaks and contaminated areas, to the rehabilitation phase, where countries, businesses and people return to their daily routines. For example, we might see a lot of fake news regarding stimulus packages, stock market performance, etc.
Solution: The best way to handle fake news is by referring people to reliable sources of information rather than social media posts.
- Fraudulent products – Something we are seeing nowadays, while the pandemic is still widespread, is the variety of fraudulent products offered by cybercriminals. This will likely change. Whilst today we are mostly seeing offers of fake products meant to help with the situation, such as vaccines, masks, antidotes etc., it is possible we will start observing product offers following a different track – around identifying and protecting against new viruses etc.
Solution: To avoid getting scammed with fake products is to purchase only from known retailers. Make sure that the website is legitimate and avoid purchasing online from links that were sent to you directly and not typed or searched by you.
- Phishing attacks – This is one of the preferred methods used by cybercriminals and will definitely continue to rise after the pandemic ends. The most popular lures will likely revolve around personal stories of people who survived, new information about the virus, unemployment status, etc.
Solution: For this kind of attack, review emails carefully for grammar and, spelling mistakes or any other suspicious signs. Also, do not open links or attachments from unknown parties.
- Malware – After the pandemic, it is likely we will continue to see different types of malware circulating. Some of them will impersonate programs or apps that offer tools to work remotely, target users who go to job ad websites, etc.
Solution: This can be handled with cyber defence tools alongside raised awareness as to what you download, and which links you open.
- Turning to crime for income – The increase in unemployment might lead some people to look for high-pay, high-risk jobs, such as working for criminal groups as money mules who withdraw stolen cash from ATMs during cyber-attacks against financial institutions, or other crime-related jobs.
There is no doubt that more changes will occur in the cyber security world, which cannot be predicted right now. However, the industry has proven in the past that it can adjust quickly, and while cybercriminals are fast to react, security companies and researchers are not far behind.
FraudWatch International is currently actively targeting all COVID-19 Online Scams to protect all Internet users from cyber criminals during this period. If you have been a victim, heard of an ongoing scam or have any other relevant information regarding scams or fake news, please report it to Covid19@fraudwatchinternational.com.