Beware: Upsurge in Fraudulent Email Activity.
Scams have, and always will be a prevalent part of the connected world, however, in light of the current environment surrounding COVID-19 it appears fraudsters have been taking advantage of the crisis with an increase in high threat phishing campaigns and spam disguised as fake Coronavirus communications.
An Garda Siochana have warned against an upsurge in three types of fraud against companies and individuals(1) since the outbreak of this worldwide pandemic:
Internet PhishingWhat it is: An email, text, instant message or phone call communication. Designed to trick the recipient into opening a link or file that contains a cyber-weapon that can steal user data such as passwords and personal information.
What you should look out for: Suspicious emails and other communications that make reference to COVID-19 info and safety measures. This form of scam can be disguised to look like they are being sent from a reputable source such as the WHO and the CDC or even the company you work for.
What you should do: Best advice suggestions not to open any emails, links or files that you have even the slightest sense of suspicion about. If you receive such always ask your IT support team the best way to a handle it for your network setup. They'll probably suggest you move the email to your spam folder, block the sender if unknown and delete the email, but always best to check first.
Fraudulent Selling:What you should look out for: If it looks too good to be true, it usually is. As health and hygiene products such as hand sanitizer and face masks are in short stock due to high demand, any non-reputable sites claiming to sell these products (especially at a cheap price) should be approached with an extra degree of caution.
What you should do: For health and hygiene products if bought online where possible only buy from sites you know are legitimate. Read the reviews on the products. Many of the companies selling fraudulent items will not keep you safe as they are not effective.
Social Engineering Scams:What it is: The exploitation of the charitable nature of people by asking for donations to fake charities/organisations.
What you should look out for: Communications asking for financial donations in the fight against COVID-19. These can pop up in any form such as through an email or browser link.
What you should do: If you want to donate money to a cause, it's always worth finding the genuine site by performing your own web search, rather than clicking through a link from an email - which could be phishing. Best advice is only click on links sent to you when you are sure they are genuine, as these (like phishing scams) can be disguised as genuine charities. It also always good to make sure any website is secure before making any transaction online.
This list is not exhaustive and as more and more people are beginning to work from home it will become important to make sure you are on high alert of the possiblity of scams that are popular at present.
Gardai have asked that anyone who finds themselves the victim of a scam should report to their nearest Garda station.
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