FBI Warns of Coronavirus Scams

Mar 23, 2020 11:08:03 AM

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On Friday, the FBI released an alert warning of increased scams related to the Coronavirus outbreak. From the FBI announcement:

Scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both. Don’t let them. Protect yourself and do your research before clicking on links purporting to provide information on the virus; donating to a charity online or through social media; contributing to a crowdfunding campaign; purchasing products online; or giving up your personal information in order to receive money or other benefits.

Some things to think about during this crisis, and general rules to follow to increase your overall security:

Watch the fake emails – There are plenty of emails going around claiming to be from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Try to confirm that any/all emails that you are reading are from legitimate sources. The CDC website contains the most up-to-date information and can be found at www.cdc.gov.

Charity scams – There are also many organizations claiming to be part of a relief effort or charity to help those affected by the virus. While there is no question that charities are very much in need, please learn if the charity is legitimate before donating. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has resources that you can use to confirm the legitimacy of a charity organization on their website: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-donate-wisely-and-avoid-charity-scams

Fake equipment – The FBI is also launching investigations for online sellers of fake or unreliable equipment and testing supplies. In most cases, these supplies will put you (and the public) at greater risk, and should not be used. The government has established www.coronavirus.com and https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ for information about testing and protective equipment. 

Keep these checks in mind to maintain your personal security. One last thought – just because you are working from home doesn’t mean that your company’s information security rules do not apply. Working from home (WFH) creates security challenges that many first-time telecommuters have never faced, and businesses are still liable for the integrity of their data and intellectual property. Remember to check with your company’s security team for any additional precautions that you should take while working remotely. 

Together, we will make it through these difficult times. If you have any questions about this, or any other security-related concerns, feel free to reach out to me directly. Always happy to help!

Chris Steffen

Written by Chris Steffen

Christopher Steffen, CISSP, CISA, is the managing research director of information security/risk and compliance management for Enterprise Management Associates, a leading industry analyst and consulting firm that provides deep insight across the full spectrum of IT and data management technologies. Before EMA, he served as the CIO for a financial services firm, focusing on FedRAMP compliance and security. He has also served in executive and leadership roles in numerous industry verticals. Steffen has presented at numerous industry conferences and has been interviewed by multiple online and print media sources. Steffen holds over a dozen technical certifications, including CISSP and CISA.

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