Protecting Your Business From COVID-19 Cyber Scams

Do you know that google saw more than 18 million daily malware and phishing emails that are related to COVID-19 scams during a single week?

Add these numbers to the more than 240 million daily spam messages, also related to the novel coronavirus and it starts to show how vast the appetite is for cyber scams.

As a business, you're already under risk of blunt-force attacks and other nasty malware on a regular basis. However, with the intensity caused by COVID-19, your business is even more at risk of phishing attacks and cyber scams. 

This is where learning how to identify cybersecurity scams and phishing attempts come in handy. Keep on reading to learn all about how to protect your business from cyber scams.

Examples of Current Coronavirus Phishing Emails

A coronavirus-themed phishing email can take a multitude of forms. However, they tend to mainly follow one of the following types of emails. 

1. Health Advice Emails

There have been numerous emails that phishers have sent out offering medical advice that promise protection from COVID-19. 

These emails tend to claim that it's coming from a renowned health organization or a public health office that's government-related in one form or another. 

It calls the receiver of the email to use the provided link to download "safety measures," or other types of downloadable material. This material is cyber malware, and can truly wreak havoc on your business data and IT infrastructure. 

2. Workplace Policy Emails

Unfortunately, there has been a recurring trend of cybercriminals specifically targeting employees' workplace email accounts. 

They tend to take the form of a coronavirus update for your employees. For example, one can tell your employees that there is a new "communicable disease management policy" that they need to download and read.

Of course, one an employee downloads the fake "policy," you'll be dealing with malicious software that might target your business data. 

How to Recognize and Avoid Cyber Scams

Regardless of the form a phishing email or other cyber scams take, they all have similar qualities. These qualities make it possible to recognize and avoid them. This applies to cyber scams that are coronavirus-themed or otherwise. 

For instance, the email or text messages will ask you to click on a link or provide personal information. Once you do so, your personal information can be used to commit fraud or even identity theft. 

As it were, with working from home (WFH) policies in place, your employees will be using a variety of apps and software to stay connected. This will expose them to a higher risk of cyber scams and fraud. 

Let's take a look at the steps you can take to prevent either you or your employees from falling for a cyber scam.

Beware of Online Requests for Personal Information

Any email that's coronavirus-themed that asks for personal information like bank account data, login information is almost certainly phishing scam.

No legitimate government agency is going to ask for that sort of information via email. The simplest way to deal with these emails is to never respond. 

In addition, if you have an IT department with a dedicated cybersecurity unit, then make sure to notify them, so they can tighten email protocols.

Check the Email Address or Link

A great way to check where a link leads is by hovering your mouse over the URL just to see where it leads. 

In some cases, it's quite apparent that the link has nothing to do with the email's topic. However, phishers are smart enough to create links that are similar to legitimate addresses. 

Therefore, make sure to delete that email once you're suspicious of its nature. 

Keep an Eye out for Generic Greetings

Nothing screams "scam" louder than an email with a generic greeting. 

Phishing emails are very unlikely to use your name. Therefore, you'll find them going for "Dear sir or madam."

Be Suspicious of Emails That Insist That You Act Now

Another clear sign that things aren't what they seem is an email of suspicious origin that's demanding immediate action.

You'll find that phishing emails will always try to create a sense of urgency. The aim is to get you to provide personal information or to click a link or download a file as soon as possible before you think about it too much.

After all, if you took the time to think things through, you're more likely to figure out it's a scam. 

Other Cybersecurity Strategies to Protect Your Business

The techniques we've provided are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cybersecurity for your business.

There are more solid strategies and implementations that are critical for having healthy cybersecurity.

Update Your Software

It sounds intuitive, yet, you'd be surprised at how out-of-date a lot of business software currently is, which creates glaring holes into these businesses' firewalls and security protocols. 

It's important to make sure that you have the most recent, improved or safer version of installed software. This applies to both operating system software and application software.

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication

With multi-factor authentication on hand, the chances of getting hacked get decimated to extremely low levels. 

This is one of the most effective security controls you can implement to prevent any unauthorized access to physical computers, applications, and even online services. 

The way multi-factor authentication works is by requiring a combination of proofs from the person requesting access. 

For example, these proofs can be something a user knows (like passwords). It can also be something they physically have, like a card or a security key.

What makes multi-factor authentication so effective is the sheer level of difficulty a cybercriminal would face trying to steal multiple types of proof of identity all at the same time. 

Protecting Your Business Is Key to Survival

In this day and age, nothing can cripple your business faster than a cyberattack or falling prey to cyber scams. 

Thankfully, now you have a great toolkit of recognizing phishing emails and other underhanded attempts at getting your information or stealing your customers' data. 

In addition, you can start integrating the tips and strategies to hike up your cybersecurity and educate your employees.

Connect with your employees and teach them how to be physically healthy whilst working from home, as well as keeping a high level of cybersecurity hygiene.

Make sure to check out our blog for all the advice you need on how to manage your business in this time of global turmoil.

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The information contained herein is offered as risk and claims management industry guidance and provided as an overview of current market risks and available programs and is intended for discussion purposes only. This publication is not intended to offer legal advice or client-specific risk management advice. General descriptions contained herein do not include complete definitions, terms, and/or conditions, and should not be relied on for claims management interpretation. Actual claims and risk management policies must always be consulted for full coverage details and analysis.

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