TORONTO, ONTARIO, April 14th 2020 —
The current Covid-19 pandemic has given new ways for tech savvy criminals to take advantage of human emotions. Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, creating fake urgency or panic to get unsuspecting users to click or perform an action is easier than ever.
Being aware of these scams can make you less likely to fall prey.
Here are some examples of what we have seen in over the past couple weeks.
1) Mobile Applications for COVID-19
Apps offering to track the spread of the virus, providing alerts of pandemics in your specific location, and making false claims to help ease your concerns. We recommend not installing any COVID-19 specific apps since so many have been found to have malicious code in them.
If you really want to install a Covid-19 tracking app, we recommend staying with the major news organizations you can trust. Here are some trusted links that will keep you updated (and safe).
- CBC site containing all news related to Covid-19
- BBC site that provides news related to Covid-19 with a more international perspective
- Health Canada’s self assessment tool with specific recommendations in your location.
- John’s Hopkins COVID-19 global tracker.
Provides data for each country and updated in real-time.
2) Phishing Emails and Text Messaging
Covid-19 or otherwise, phishing remains the most popular means of infiltrating users and organizations. Be on the lookout for fraudulent messages masquerading as health advisories from health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Control (CDC), from charities asking for money to help with the pandemic, and from any other large trusted institutions with advisory updates.
Phishing through text messaging (also called “Smishing”) is a popular approach used by malicious actors during this pandemic. Here’s an example:
In the midst of the challenges presented by COVID-19, please do not fall prey to this scam. If you receive a text message claiming to be from the Red Cross selling or giving away masks, do NOT click the link (we didn't). It is not a legitimate offer. ^jh pic.twitter.com/CqSrMBRSjQ
— Halton Police (@HaltonPolice) March 18, 2020
3) Offers of Face masks and other protective equipment
As PPE (personal protective equipment) is scarce, some may be tempted to reach out to less reputable sources and click on links to sites we do not normally visit. These sites can often be malicious or will provide you with inferior products.
A Toronto man was recently arrested for selling an illegal Covid-19 test kit. https://toronto.citynews.ca/2020/03/27/fake-covid-19-test-kits/
4) Malicious or Inferior Software While Working from Home
As discussed in our April 3rd article, not all organizations were prepared for their entire work force to begin working from home. Organizations and users scrambled to find solutions to address the immediate problems without proper evaluation, testing, planning, and deployment. As we settle into this new normal, it is important to review these solutions for reliability, integrity, and security.
Please feel free to reach out to the Starport Team if you would like to discuss this or any other technology issues.