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Danger in the Eworld

Recently, someone in a group I belong to has been sending little notes to other people in the group through the group email. In was, I'm sure, a friendly gesture to help us in our isolation. Trouble was, they were not sending out things they had personally written, but sending out links to other places… specifically Web sites. And in this case, Web sites which included malicious software.

Once I received this mail, I started to receive other mail. In this case phishing expeditions (no, that's not a misspelling, it's actually spelled this way.) Cunningly worded email notes telling me I needed to fix something. However, what the sites wanted me to do was to type in my password (So they would have it) and then tell them some personal information. It all looked very official, but what they wanted to do was steal my identity… and later down the road… steal money. It was all very insidious. You see these folks are taking advantage of the fact you are home 24x7 and your major communication is not via phone (that's so old world) but electronically. Trips to Amazon for shopping, Zoom meetings, and of course email.

Here's the trick. You don't even have to go to these malicious links to be attacked. Only the sender needs to go to one. Once the sender goes to the site, the site's software scans their mail traffic for Google groups they are sending to and captures the addresses in that group. They know you will not want to block this address because then you'll be blocking everyone using the group from writing to you. This creates a perfect doorway for them to launch an attack. If the first one doesn't work, they'll send a different one. Over and over.

One study shows coronavirus-related phishing attacks have spiked 667% since March 1.

Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has seen an increase in criminals pretending to be someone they are not. "Hackers and cyber scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic by sending fraudulent email and WhatsApp messages that attempt to trick you into clicking on malicious links or opening attachments," the organization's website says.

Be (extra) alert for email scams

  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to help you resist threat actors trying to take over your email account
  • Scrutinize and independently validate emails that ask for changes related to money or finances, including those telling you about changes to bank account and routing info
  • Especially look out for emails allegedly from "IT Support." Threat actors know you're working from home, and they will try to trick you into uploaded "the latest update" or "the newest antivirus protection." Don't fall for it! Hover over links to see the URL and don't click links or attachments unless you trust the sender 100 percent

Be smart about general security

  • Use the latest, up to date antivirus protection from a reputable provider (Norton, McAfee, Bitdefender are all options)
  • Create regular backups to disconnected hard drives (or cloud) in case you lose your data or fall victim to a ransomware attack
  • Lock your computer when you walk away or go to sleep .





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