Cyber Crime during Covid-19 Lockdown

Cyber Crime during Covid-19 Lockdown

Statistics have shown that during lockdown, most of us are even more inundated with virtual content and updates from various sources. And the surge in work-from-home has increased the use of potentially vulnerable services, such as VPNs, amplifying the threat to individuals and organisations.

We receive bulk sms’s, emails, whatsapps and social media messages coming through every hour! And most messages aver to help us with information on the coronavirus.

However, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) warns South Africans to be extra alert during lockdown and here’s how you can avoid being victim to cyber crime:

How the attacks work

The attackers exploit general curiosity and concern over the COVID-19 virus to prey on users.

Scammers will often pretend to be trusted entities and use social engineering methods to persuade users to carry out a certain action.

They will also try to create the impression of authenticity, and may spoof sender information in an email to make it appear to come from a trustworthy source, such as the World Health Organization.

Other examples purport to be from an organisation’s human resources department and advise the employee to open the attachment.

This convinces users to click on a link or download an attachment that may compromise their information or the integrity of their systems.

Additionally, the attackers are exploiting COVID-19 to steal user credentials – such as for email services from Google and Microsoft.

Spoofed pages are designed to look legitimate or accurately impersonate well-known websites. Often the only way to notice malicious intent is through observing the website URL.

Please be wary of emails that may have subject lines such as the following:

2020 Coronavirus Updates
Coronavirus Updates
2019-nCov: New confirmed cases in your City
2019-nCov: Coronavirus outbreak in your city (Emergency)

Malicious file attachments used to deliver malware payloads could be named with coronavirus or COVID-19 themes, with one example the advisory gave being “President discusses budget savings due to coronavirus with Cabinet.rtf”.

Although most of these attacks are carried out via email, SMS scams have been in an uprise during lockdown.

Tips to stay cyber-safe:

It is advisable to not click on any links or attachments in emails or text messages purporting to provide coronavirus details or relief unless these are from official channels or sources.

  • Do not click on links or icons in unsolicited emails.
  • Never reply to these emails.
  • Do not believe the content of unsolicited emails blindly.
  • Check that you are on the authentic/real site before entering any personal information.
  • Do not click on links or icons in unsolicited SMSs.
  • Do not reply to these SMSs..
  • Do not believe the content of unsolicited SMSs blindly.
  • Regard urgent security alerts, offers, or deals as warning signs of a hacking attempt.

Only make use of known and trusted sources of COVID-19 information which includes most importantly the South African Covid19 portal here or the official Government WhatsApp number: 060 012 3456.

Please be vigilant during these tumultuous times!

By Alet Smit | Attorney & Group Marketing Head

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