Coronavirus and Online Fraud: How to Detect Scams and Fake News

Última actualización: April 16th, 2020 - 08:12 pm

While many of us enjoy being at home with no work to do, attackers don't rest. On the contrary, they're taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to steal information and money. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) warned about criminals pretending to be the WHO to steal sensitive data.

As the virus spreads around the globe, hackers use the users' confusion and lack of knowledge to make attacks using new hooks.

The world is constantly connected, given now it's the only way to shorten the distances that separate us from family, friends, work colleagues and fellow students. Everything we usually did in person, has been now transported to the digital tools and platforms.

What are the most frequent attacks?

The generalized state of alert and concern make almost everyone interested in COVID-19. The Interpol warned about scams, from calls of fake doctors telling people that a family member is hospitalized and payment is required for treatment, retail stores promoting highly-demanded sanitary elements, to fake emails from banking entities or websites with special promotions, and mobile apps, to WhatsApp message chains with doubtful information about charitable actions from governments, foundations and NGOs.

How to avoid potential attacks?

  • Don't click on links part of promotional messages received via WhatsApp. Delete the message immediately and don't forward it.
  • Don't believe everything you read on Facebook or the messages you received via WhatsApp--those could've been written by anyone. There're many fake cures for coronavirus circulating, but none of them have been verified. According to the WHO, there's not a real cure for COVID-19 yet.
  • Verify the source of the information you consume. Sometimes, even the most prestigious media outlets publish fake news because they don't check the source properly.
  • Don't open files attached to emails if the sender is unknown or you have doubts about its origin.
  • Check the veracity of the information you read from local or international organisms by visiting their official website or social media.
  • If you get an international call from an unknown number, don't answer and don't return the call.
  • Share these tips with family, friends and people who lack high levels of digital culture, so they are alert about potential threats.

The pandemic has generated the perfect environment for cyberattacks. Millions of people are working or studying in uncommon situations without proper security measures, looking for information about the virus online. That's why prevention is key not to add an extra issue to this extraordinary circumstance the world is going through right now.

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