15 MARCH 2020
THE FOLLOWING IS A REPORT ON THE CYBER IMPACT
OF THE CORONAVIRUS SCARE
Please before you shut down and ignore everything that is to follow, this is NOT a re-hash of the garbage which has been spilling out of the mouths of talking heads on every media outlet. The information being provided here is vital for anyone who knows someone who may be more susceptible to SCAMMERS particularly when it comes to matters of health, healthcare and the worries over the virus.
Usually, when we think of persons susceptible to scams involving health-care, the seniors in our family circles are the first on our minds. This is certainly true now because of the fear-mongering being thrown upon them in daily news casts and their conversations with friends and family. It is not only, though, seniors who are at risk. New information available through intelligence sources indicates that cyber-criminals; those who hack systems for information, others who are phishing for identification information and even those who are spreading their own kinds of viruses are using COVID-19 as a means to their criminal ends.
Anyone who finds in their e-mail something looking even vaguely official claiming specific information regarding the Coronavirus Disease will likely open it. The user is then susceptible to malware, spyware, trojans and even backdoor programs which can completely destory any confidentiality of the users’ information. Malware can infect a computer program with a worm, virus or trojan. The differentiation is the virus will introduce a malware which attaches itself to a program and mass reproduces itself throughout the system and through the contacts the user has on their system. A worm is similar in destructiveness without the replication and trojans are “programs that, enter computers appearing to be harmless programs, install themselves and carry out actions that affect user confidentiality.”[i] Spyware can infiltrate a system to monitor all activity on a device and obtain information which breaches security software, exposing confidential identification information. Sources report that internationally placed hackers are using the scare tactics easily contrived due to Coronavirus to plant such software and even use backdoor programs to open cameras and microphones remotely, obtaining all types of confidential information. Backdoor programs literally allow the hacker into your system to have free reign of it and all the information contained therein.
Phishing expeditions work similarly, introducing themselves to the user by claiming some connection to a government entity involved in healthcare or emergency measures due to the ‘outbreak.’ Not relying on just software to do their work, they seek to solicit private information from the user through e-mail or by telephone contact following up an email. They claim to need to confirm the users’ information and current status for healthcare reasons. They may claim to be from a government health insurance program designed to protect the person from hospital costs due to Coronavirus, etc. In so doing, they obtain as much confidential identification information as possible from the user. They may also solicit funds for caring for others sickened by the disease or for an insurance policy for the user or their family against the costs affiliated with contracting the disease.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF and OTHERS comes back to the basics. Health officials are telling everyone it is all about limiting contact and avoid spreading germs. This is done by suppressing coughs and sneezes while being proactive. One way to be proactive is by thoroughly washing your hands. Such simple actions are key to battling the actual virus, the same is true in the cyber world.
LIMIT CONTACT Do Not Open any e-mail that comes from someone unknown to you and purports to be from a government or health entity about the Coronavirus. If you have already opened it and you become suspicious of its contents, DO NOT download any files. In fact, do not download any files that come from ANYONE other than someone you specifically know and trust.
AVOID SPREADING the virus. Run scans on your system daily, automatically scheduleds scans are good precautions any time. Also, scan your system immediately after you have opened something of which you are unsure. Make certain others in your on-line circles do the same and have them let you know if they receive anything from you that does not look right.
BE PROACTIVE Running system scans and keeping malware protection up-to-date are like washing your computer’s hands. Keep up on the latest phishing and scam attempts which are prevelant.
COMMON SENSE is what will see us past the Coronavirus COV-19 scare, although, sadly there is little of it being displayed. Common sense will also help you prevent yourself or others you care for from being taken down by some virus hacker sitting in the dark in his mother’s basement somewhere in a suburb anywhere in the world.
The preceding SECURITY BRIEFING was written by Dr. Ross Riggs, President of Security Consulting Investigations, LLC (SCI). SCI is licensed by the State of Ohio Department of Public Safety/Homeland Security. Dr. Riggs is a Certified Police Executive, retired Chief of Police and owner of SCI since 2006. He has traveled, teaching and consulting globally for fifteen years. He is the author of many published professional articles and of a book, Stretching the Thin Blue Line: Policing America in Time of Heightened Threat. Published by Motivational Press, it is available through Dr. Riggs’ company site, www.DefenderLtd.com Dr. Riggs and staff can be reached for consulting, private investigations or for providing infrastructure security at 1.888.719.5636 You may also reach them through the website’s contact form on the main page or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
[i] Panda Security https://www.pandasecurity.com/en-us/security-info/