CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC UPDATE: BEWARE OF MALICIOUS CORONAVIRUS WEBSITES

Mischievous people can’t help themselves; they always look for an opportunity exploit our vulnerabilities. Scams, spams, and phishing expedition are their stock in trade.

As the world combats the Coronavirus pandemic, and people browse the internet feverishly searching for information, a malicious website pretending to be a Live Map for Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins University is circulating on the internet waiting for unwitting internet users to visit the website. Visiting the website infects the user’s computer with an information stealing program which can exfiltrate your personal information.

Furthermore, anyone searching the internet for a Coronavirus map could unwittingly navigate to this malicious website. The cybersecurity team at the US Health and Human Services is working with numerous stakeholders to ensure this map is taken offline.

Be warned that the internet is full of websites that are fake and fraudulent; many of them are run by Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies. Here are a few tips to help you determine if a website is fake.
  1. Check connection security indicators. A website that has an “https” tag is usually more secure – and therefore more trustworthy – than a site using the common “http” designation.
  2. View certificate details by checking the site’s security status in your browser’s address bar. For most browsers, a “safe” website will display a padlock icon to the left of the website’s URL.
  3. Pay close attention to the URL. A website’s URL consists of the connection type (“http” or “https”), the domain name itself (e.g., “google”, “amazon”, etc.), and the extension (“.com”, “.net”, “.gov”, “edu”, etc.). Even if you’ve verified that the connection is secure, be on the lookout for red flags like dashes and symbols in the names or domain names that imitate business names.
  4. Watch out for invasive and aggressive advertising.

As a rule of thumb, always exercise caution and a heightened sense of suspicion whenever you go online. If a website looks suspicious don’t go there. If the name is unfamiliar, stay off. Better be safe than sorry.

Be calm, be informed, be vigilant, be prepared.

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