Coronavirus Pandemic Has Unleashed A Wave Of Cyber Attacks – Here’s How To Protect Yourself

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While most of the world is trying to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems hackers are not on lockdown. Cyber criminals are trying to leverage the emergency by sending out “phishing” attacks that lure internet users to click on malicious links or files. This can allow the hackers to steal sensitive data or even take control of a user’s device and use it to direct further attacks.

The last thing you want at a time like this is to become a victim of a cyber attack and maybe even lose your computer. But there some straightforward guidelines that should help you protect yourself.

Many people are searching online for information about COVID-19. But the pandemic has created what the World Health Organization (WHO) calls an “infodemic, in which people are bombarded with an overabundance of both accurate and inaccurate information that is circulating on the internet, making it hard to know what to trust.

Hackers have started to capitalise on this situation by sending out emails that purport to offer health advice from reputable organisations such as governments and the WHO but that are really phishing attacks.

It’s hard to know how many attacks are being carried out or how many people are being affected. But new attacks are being reported nearly every day, and some cyber security companies are reporting large increases in inquiries since many people started working from home.

Phishing for your data

Phishing Fraud Cyber Security - Free image on Pixabay

One of the first such attacks was reported in Mongolia and was aimed at public sector employees. It involved an email and word document (RTF file) about the prevalence of new coronavirus infections, pretending to be from the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The email and document look authentic and provide relevant information. But opening the file installs a malicious piece of code on the victim’s computer that runs every time they open their word processing application (for example Microsoft Word).

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This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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