Beware of Hackers Taking Advantage of the CCP Virus Pandemic

By Melina Wisecup

NEW YORK—Cyber scammers are finding new targets as more employees and students are made to work from home.

Cybersecurity expert, Laura Jehl explains that working outside of your company or school’s secured network poses safety risks as most most companies and schools aren’t set up for remote working.

She warns people to stay cautious about suspicious emails and website links that may have malware.

The FBI says that, in recent years, there has been a surge in ransomware attacks.

ransomware demand
A screenshot shows a WannaCry ransomware demand, provided by cyber security firm Symantec, in Mountain View, California, U.S. May 15, 2017. (Symantec/Handout via Reuters)

Global Head of Privacy and Cybersecurity at McDermott Will & Emery, Laura Jehl, told NTD,
“It just encrypts all you data sort of instantly. So it basically locks up your entire computer system and turns it into kind of a brick until you pay a ransom. It will give you a little note on your screen where it will say this is a ransom ware attack and this is how much we want you to pay us in bitcoin to this account and this is how you do it.”

According to the FBI, between 2013 and 2019, nearly 150 million dollars were paid out in ransomeware attacks.

hacker
A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw on Feb. 28, 2013. (Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

Jehl also warns against scammers impersonating government agencies—especially during a time like right now as the world faces this global pandemic due to the CCP coronavirus. For example, some scammers may send out a fake email from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) supposedly trying to give health related updates.

“If you’re looking for news, go look for it affirmatively from a source you trust don’t click are particularly scary looking links sent to you,” said Jehl.

Recent reports show that some hackers have even created malware infested apps that claim to track the coronavirus outbreak. One app is called “COVID19 Tracker.” After downloading it, the device owner is forced to pay money to an anonymous source within a certain time period or else the hacker threatens to erase all the device’s data and leak personal information on the device.

One may be able to detect the app is a sham because you are unable to download the app in the Google Play Store. Instead you’re directed to a website for the download.

Jehl says another protective measure users can take is to look closely at sender email addresses and links sent to you.

Usually, there is something not right about the email or web link. For example, it may have some hidden typos, such as the number 1 replacing the letter “l” or a number zero replacing the letter “o.”