Instant communication platforms are prime targets for cybercriminals during Covid-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 outbreak has transformed into a 24/7 nightmare for people all over the globe. Safety measures have forced workers to comply with Coronavirus recommendations or their employer’s policy, and start working from home, where possible.

Remote work is not the only measure recommended by officials, as thousands of people have chosen self-isolation to avoid contacting the novel virus as well. As social distancing becomes the norm, people increasingly rely on the digital world to communicate, interact, work, shop and offer support to one another.

Cybercriminals know this, and they’re using every trick in their book to dupe you into becoming one of their next victims. Attacks range from good old-fashioned phishing emails and malicious websites to fraudulent ads and fake messages sent out on social media platforms and instant messaging apps.

The next time you feel the urge to go online and communicate with others on Facebook, Twitter, WeChat or WhatsApp, keep an eye out for scammers. Threat actors will go to any lengths to profit off consumers, especially now, when people rely on the Internet more than ever to stay up to date with the news on the pandemic.

As Amazon has cleaned out its closet and removed more than 1 million products advertising fake health benefits against Coronavirus, scammers have taken social media platforms and cross-platform messaging apps by storm, promoting bogus products and spreading fear and misinformation.

Earlier this week, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Reddit also said they’re committed to fending off misinformation and helping keep everyone connected as safely as possible.

To tackle a wave of fake news and scams, WhatsApp has partnered with the World Health Organization to launch a Coronavirus information hub to aid educators, businesses and workers on how to use the app during this period. The joint effort of online platforms scrubbing fake Coronavirus news is appreciated and needed.

However, fake news and fraud are not the only menace that deserve attention. Cyber criminals will most likely turn to instant messaging apps to send out messages with COVID-19 content that urge you to click on a spoofed link that looks legit. Imagine having your devices infected with malware or ransomware at a time like this.

Should you receive any suspicious messages from an unfamiliar source, follow these simple rules:

• Disregard the message entirely
• Do not click on any links or provide any personal identifiable information or payments
• If you receive the message via WhatsApp, block the number
• If your service provider or phone allows personalized filtering, report the message as spam
• Report any misuse, spam or fraudulent activity to the platform provider
• Gather information from your healthcare provider and local authorities
• Keep your security solution up to date

Stay Safe!

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