Will A COVID-19 Spoof Sites Breach Your Business Network?

COVID-19 spoof sites are posing as legitimate agencies. It’s critical to enlist a managed IT cybersecurity expert to close gaps before your business gets hacked. 

Due to the relentless criminal activity of hackers, Canada fights the COVID-19 crisis on two fronts — in our communities and on the internet. The Communications Security Establishment was called upon to take down sites that spoofed the Public Health Agency of Canada and Canada Border Serviced Agency.

“We’ve taken down some COVID-related fake sites out there. We work with partners to do that type of thing. We’re taking action,” Canadian Centre for Cyber Security chief Scott Jones reportedly said.

These fake coronavirus-themed sites have been sowing the seeds of disinformation while preying on fear to steal from everyday people and businesses. According to reports, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police continue to track digital scam artists. One confirmed case points to fraudulent COVID-19 site trolled for credit card information while posing as the Public Health Agency. The scheme entailed buying an online prescription directly from the agency. There have been rampant phishing and spear-phishing schemes targeting remote workforce personnel.

COVID 19 Spoofed Sites

Cybercriminals Use Manipulation in COVID-19 Schemes

While hard-working Canadians are implementing safety protocols such as social distancing and working from home, hackers are leveraging fear and uncertainty. Since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, digital thieves have targeted people and businesses in hot spot areas and those with recent incident reports. To say cybercriminals are unscrupulous would be something of an understatement.

Canadian Centre for Cyber Security chief Jones reported that digital scammers had gone as far as to target family members who lost a loved one to the deadly virus. Websites and email schemes are pushing phony cures, prompt testing, and one scheme claimed it could provide a list of the infected in particular neighbourhoods. Each attempt to extract money out of honest people involved tugging at their heartstrings or playing off fear and anxiety.

State-Sponsored COVID-19 Cyber Terrorism

One of the methods that rogue nations utilize to bring down honest Democracies involves promoting disinformation on social media platforms. Canada’s adversaries have been hard at work, and some see the pandemic as a rare opportunity.

“There is absolutely going to be efforts on the part of state-sponsored and non-state-sponsored (actors) to try to make every step we take as a government, and indeed as allies, look bad,” Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance reportedly said.

The general has issued cybersecurity warnings that government agencies could come under cyberattack and anticipates disinformation campaigns to undermine Canada’s leadership. Such nefarious efforts only serve to increase anxieties and cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

How Canadian Businesses Can Defend Against COVID-19 Hacks

While business leaders do their part to protect valued employees with increased work-from-home options, cybercriminals see this as another opportunity. When relatively inexperienced people access business networks remotely, that can create security gaps for hackers to exploit.

Once a hacker penetrates a home computer or endpoint device with business network privileges, they could seize control of valuable company data. That’s why it’s crucial to educate and empower remote workforces. These are primary spoof tactics hackers are deploying.

  • COVID-19 Phishing Emails: Hackers cast a wide net by sending out bulk emails laced with malicious software. Once opened or someone clicks on a link, ransomware, and other malicious applications can control your data. Delete any COVID-19 emails and visit only well-recognized government and health agencies for factual information.
  • COVID-19 Spear Phishing: This method involved getting someone to provide personal identity information, credit card numbers, or financial records, among others, at a spoof site. Once the information has been entered, site visitors click on a link. That’s when the malicious application seizes your data and could cripple a company network.

Cybercriminals are also leveraging social media and online advertisements, among others, to trick people into visiting spoof sites. It’s in every Canadian business leader’s best interest to enlist a managed IT professional to ramp up remote cybersecurity measures. Few companies recognize security gaps until after they’ve been robbed.