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Defending Against COVID-19 Cyber Threats

Posted on 3/31/2020

Learn more about how to avoid a wide variety of cyber threats that have sprung up in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, from avoiding e-mails with malicious attachments to phishing scams and bogus charity solicitations. Also get risk management tips for dealing with the spread of coronavirus.

As more and more consumers and small businesses are moving to online and smartphone app-based banking during the coronavirus pandemic (some for the first time ever), cyber criminals are bound to seek ways to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals.

Scam artists and cyber crooks are using the hysteria around the COVID-19 crisis to prey on unwary individuals by sending e-mails with malicious attachments, and links to deceptive websites that trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent causes / charities.

The Department of Homeland Security's CISA unit (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) is recommending that people exercise extreme caution in opening any e-mails with a COVID-19 related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and be wary of social media solicitations, texts or calls related to COVID-19.

The CISA and the ICBA (Independent Community Bankers of America) have offered the following cyber-security tips:

  • Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited e-mails and be wary of e-mail attachments. See Using Caution with Email attachments and Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Scams for more information.
  • Phishing campaigns are using COVID-19 as a lure. Subjects have included health advice from doctors, and information from global health organizations like The WHO (World Health Organization) and CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).
  • Seek out trusted sources for up-to-date, fact-based COVID-19 information, such as legitimate government websites or acknowledged experts like the CDC or the WHO.
  • Never share personal or financial information in an e-mail, and do not respond to e-mail solicitations for this type of information.
  • Verify a charity's authenticity before making any donations. You can refer to the Federal Trade Commission's page in Charity Scams for more information.
  • Avoid fraudulent coronavirus maps that have been created to spread malware - utilizing John Hopkins University's coronavirus tracking map.
  • Review the CISA Insights on Risk Management for COVID-19 for more information.


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