Online Security Amidst COVID-19 Part 1: How to Combat Phishing Attempts
- Pete Boergermann
Stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures have accelerated the adoption of digital technology and online platforms by the masses. From social media to video conferencing to Mobile Banking and telemedicine, these new ways to connect are not only convenient, but they’re becoming essential to everyday life.
Fraudsters and cybercriminals now have millions of potential new victims and multiple government agencies are reporting increases in this type of criminal activity. At C&N, we’ve invested in strong cyber-defense systems to protect our customers and we’ve built libraries of resources to share with you. Our goal is to help you stay informed & prepared so you can confidently enjoy the conveniences of modern technology.
In the first part of our “Safe&Secure: Online Security Amidst COVID-19” series, we’ll share some tips to protect yourself from a popular criminal technique called “Phishing.” Thousands of new COVID-19- and Coronavirus-related domain names have surfaced recently and could potentially be used in new phishing campaigns.
What is Phishing?
Fraudsters use this technique to send fake emails or text messages that compel the recipient to click malicious links or open infected attachments. Upon clicking on the link or opening the attachment, malware, viruses, spyware or ransomware will likely be installed on the recipient’s device. When this happens, the malware will record the keys typed on a keyboard, like when typing a password, and then sends this information to a hacker or demands a ransom payment.
How can I prevent this from happening to me?
Knowing how to identify a phishing attempt is the best way to reduce your risk of an attack. Here are four red flags that could indicate you’re a target of phishing:
- Authority – the sender claims to be someone official (e.g., your bank, a doctor, a lawyer, a government agency). Criminals often pose as important or familiar people or organizations to trick you into doing what they want.
- Urgency – you have a limited time to respond (e.g., in 24 hours or immediately). Criminals often threaten you with fines or other negative consequences to compel you to act quickly.
- Emotion – the message creates a sense of panic, fear, hope or curiosity. Criminals often use threatening language, make false claims of support or tease you into wanting to find out more.
- Scarcity – the sender offers something in short supply (e.g., concert tickets, money or a cure for medical conditions). Fear of missing out on a good deal or opportunity can make you respond quickly.
What should I do if I fall victim to a phishing attack?
The first thing to do is scan your system for malware or viruses using a reputable protection software. Second, change your passwords on all of your online accounts, using strong passwords – or better yet, passphrases – that are unique for each account.
Although it’s unfortunate that fraudsters are taking advantage of this global event, you can take precautions to protect yourself. The C&N team is committed to keeping you informed & prepared so that you can stay safely connected from your home or office.
For more helpful articles and information about staying safe & secure online, visit our C&N Library. Also, look for the next part of our series, “Safe&Secure: Online Security Amidst COVID-19,” to be published soon.
Pete Boergermann joined C&N in 1998. In his role as the Director of Information Security, he is responsible for managing the information security program at C&N, while also championing IT security to make it a critical part of C&N’s business operations. Pete has previously served as Information Technology Manager/Information Security Officer.
A United States Air Force Veteran, Pete graduated from the BAI Graduate School of Bank Operations through Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management in 2006 and completed the Pennsylvania Bankers Association’s (PBA) School of Banking in 2009. He earned his credentials as a Certified Information Executive from USC Upstate Campus’s Institute for CIO Excellence in 2016. He also puts his expertise to valuable use as a member of the PBA IT Technology Committee and Chair of the PBA Cyber Sub-committee.
In his spare time, Pete serves as a School Board Member of New Covent Academy and as an Elder at the Church of the New Covent and volunteers for Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally and the Annual Laurel Classic Mountain Bike Challenge. He lives in Wellsboro with his wife, Cassie, and has three daughters, Alyssa, Joy and Mikaela.