With social distancing becoming the new normal, working remotely is taking on a new importance and people are increasingly relying on the digital world to work, shop, interact, and communicate. If you’re an introvert (like me), using your computer to order pizza and sending digital messages instead of making phone calls is already second nature.
For everyone else, it’s an adjustment.
While we’re adapting to this new digital world, hackers are already looking for ways to take advantage, figuring out how to make you their next victim.
In the Clark Report we’ve talked about Phishing, Ransomware, and Antivirus programs. We’ve explained what to do when you’ve been Hacked. Cybersecurity is one of those topics that we just can’t talk about enough, partly because it’s always evolving, but mostly because it’s ever present. Each time we find a way to stop the hackers, they find a new way to attack!
Scams and Spoofs
Instant messages. Text messages. Facebook messages. News articles. Webinars. Meeting invites. All of these and more are targets that hackers are using to try to trick you into clicking on their links.
We all want to know what’s going on with this current situation. This month alone, law enforcement has taken down around 2,500 links to websites, social media, online marketplaces, and ads with scams involving Covid-19. Experts estimate that for each one that is taken down, two more are ready to take it’s place (sounds like the creed of an evil organization). They’re using logos you know, like ABC News and FOX, to trick you into clicking on their links. They’re trying to manipulate us with fear, anger, and greed to lure us in (don’t fall to the dark side of the force).
These phishing scams aren’t limited to email. Fake news can be texted to you from almost any number. It can seem to come from someone you know on Facebook or Twitter or Reddit. It’s called Spoofing. Hackers disguise communication from unknown sources to make them look like they are coming from someone that you know and no form of digital communication is safe from it.
On top of this, with so many people working from home, hackers are starting to setup fake video conference sites. They send invites that have generic company logos or information – you click on it and the site can install malicious code on your computer or steal your credentials or hack into your webcam.
That Sounds Like A Lot of Awful
It is. But you’re not helpless in this. There are things you can do to foil these hackers and it all starts with AWARENESS!
We don’t want to sit here and tell you about all of the different ways hackers are trying to attack you. We’d much rather be talking about cool shortcuts or awesome new technologies (Google is working on some awesome quantum computing concepts), but as the old saying goes, you can’t win if you don’t know the score. This is how you win.
Be on the lookout for unsolicited messages – no legitimate agency is going to randomly send you a link to provide personal information. Ever.
Question the authenticity of communications – has that person ever sent you that kind of message before, if the answer is no, don’t click on it.
Don’t fall for manufactured urgency – unless you’re doing something like ignoring the electric company, any message that threatens you to do something or miss out is probably a scam (also, you probably shouldn’t ignore the electric company, computers need electricity to live).
If you receive any of these types of suspicious messages, follow these simple rules:
- DO NOT click on links, Google the subject
- DO NOT provide personal information or payments or banking information
- It’s best to just disregard the message
- Seriously, if it’s got your Spidey sense tingling, just delete it!
- If it’s in a text from an unknown number, block the number
- On Facebook or Twitter or any other social platform, report the activity, they’re taking it seriously
- Pick up the phone and call, this is a great way to get to the truth
- If it seems to good to be true, it is, don’t fall for it
Awareness. Awareness. Awareness. We can’t say it enough.
Speaking of Awareness
Security is one of the things we discuss in our Guide to Working From Home, whether its a private workspace, locking your computer when you walk away, or having a strong password that no one in your family knows. When we are discussing communication threats, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out some others: visitors, open phone lines and home gadgets with live microphones.
Being aware of your surroundings is just as important as being aware of digital threats.
- Who is currently in your home – are there visitors who can hear you talking?
- Phones – is someone using a phone nearby that can pick up your conversation? Did you last call disconnect?
- Do you have an Amazon Echo, Google, Home, Nest Cameras, etc? Though unlikely, while listening for command words, these devices could potentially record snippets of conversations.
If your job includes discussing confidential information, especially medical or legal, you should take steps to mitigate these potential threats, whether physically checking your surroundings or unplugging smart devices while working. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
I’ve always had a love of working with technology, being fortunate enough to have grown up with a grandfather who taught me how to fix things for myself and not be afraid to jump in and get my hands dirty. Over the last three decades I’ve worked as a technician, trainer, technical writer, and manager with small businesses, enterprise level organizations, and government, picking up a lot of skills on my journey. In addition, I’m an author, having published multiple works available online and in print.