Coronavirus Cybersecurity

Coronavirus (COVID-19) cybersecurity

As concerns of coronavirus (COVID-19) continue, cybersecurity experts and the Federal Emergency Management Agency warn that digital scammers are taking advantage of heightened emotions and increased online activity. 

Learn what to look out for and how to avoid falling prey to these scams.

Phishing emails

Phishing emails are when scammers create legitimate-looking emails in hopes that recipients will respond with personal information or open malicious attachments and links.

Phishers are designing messages that look like urgent alerts from health officials, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).

To avoid getting duped, experts from Norton say to watch out for these warning signs:

  • Offers of “medical advice” and “safety measures” from suspicious email accounts or senders outside of your company's organization
  • Promises of cures, vaccinations, test kits, or personal protection equipment
  • Phrases such as “download” or “use this link”
  • Urgently worded emails, such as “You must immediately go to this link to see safety hazards” or “The CDC needs your donations now!”
  • Suspicious workplace policy emails, where scammers pretend to be your employer releasing COVID-19 policies
  • Bad grammar, misspellings, and incorrect email addresses

Linkchecker and CheckShortURL are free resources that will check links before you open them on your browser. Quad9 allows you to see or block risky websites.

See more in-depth examples of phishing attempts at KnowBe4 and Norton.

Fake charities

We all want to help each other during this crisis. Unfortunately, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warns that hackers are using this impulse to their advantage by creating fake charities. These can look like charities from official sources, such as the CDC, or be a fake fundraiser for a local mom-and-pop shop. Research charities before donating, and only make purchases on trusted websites that have “https://” in front of their site name.

Misinformation and false sources

Maybe it’s a social media post from a beloved family member, or an email that pops up in your inbox saying there are new cases of COVID-19 in your area, or that scientists have found a “secret cure.” In fear or hope, you click on the link ... only to be taken to a site that clearly is not a reputable news source.

Misinformation is catastrophe’s best friend. Promises of quick cures for the coronavirus are just as fraudulent as phishing emails. Sites that post updates with outbreak numbers from non-official sources pander to panic to further their own goals or beliefs.

Gather your information from news sources you trust and know. Your local news outlets, CDC, and WHO are reliable places for information and updates about the virus.

Cybersecurity tips and tricks Cybersecurity for college students

Extra protection at no extra charge

If you have a homeowner’s policy with Grinnell Mutual or a mutual member, you can receive identify theft protection at no extra charge with CyberScout.

Call CyberScout for assistance Visit CyberScout resource center

updated 6.21