With many of us working from home in the current crisis there is an ever-present threat from online scams and phishing attacks. The level of attacks hasn’t necessarily increased but they have definitely become more targeted towards Covid-19.
As the Minister for Security, James Brokenshire pointed out
“Criminals are seeking to exploit our greater use of emails, video conferencing and other technologies for their advantage”.James Brokenshire
Sad as it is that there are some who would seek to exploit the current crisis for their own malicious gain, we don’t have to fight these people on our own.
SERS – SUSPICIOUS EMAIL REPORTING SERVICE
In response, the government cyber security agency has launched a ‘world-leading’ scam reporting initiative or Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS not SARS!), to help people report suspicious emails and get malicious content taken down.
This is alongside a ‘cyber aware’ campaign to promote cyber security best practices – stuff we’ve been banging on about for ages! – to protect the nation.
This includes things like having strong and unique passwords, particularly for email, using a password manager, backing up your data and updating your device.
Covid-19 scams that people may come across are fake shops selling fraudulent coronavirus related items, malware distribution sites, advance-fee frauds and phishing sites, designed to steal personal information and data.
HOW TO STAY SAFE
We’ve talked about phishing before, but as a quick recap here’s what to look out for: suspicious emails that claim to be from the company you work for, the government or other authoritative body such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) or simply from companies or individuals that you don’t normally receive information from.
Particularly when financial aid is being offered by the government and information about it is being shared all over the internet it pays to be extra careful about what links you click on. Something that seems too good to be true, probably is.
Obviously best practice for all this is to make sure you have good anti-virus software and spam filters on your email, particularly if you are now not using company PC’s.
The Suspicious Email Reporting Service, which has been co-developed by City of London police, is an automated service that will analyse reported emails to see if they include any malicious links. If this is found to be the case these sites will be immediately shutdown.
It also provides the service with real time data to track and prevent phishing attacks and identify new patterns of offending behaviour so they are more well equipped in the future.
As a result of this initiative, at the end of April, 395 phishing sites had been removed from the internet within a week of them being online (NCSC, 2020). This is great news and it’s comforting to know there is a service out there which is seeking to disrupt the attempts of hackers and keep people safe online.
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