Certainly, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many countries across the globe to stay at home to avoid contracting the disease. In the Philippines, the government imposed the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in many high-risk areas, including Metro Manila.
With the ECQ, Internet connectivity has become more crucial as many Filipinos switch to doing everyday transactions online. From doing remote work, watching streaming content for entertainment to ordering online for food, all of these activities require Internet connectivity.
However, with more people being present on the Internet, it also means more opportunities for cybercriminals to lure potential victims from various sectors. Google’s Threat Analysis Group recently revealed that cybercriminals take advantage of COVID-19 as part of their schemes.
Among these schemes include phishing emails pretending as messages from charities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) fighting COVID-19, directions from administrators to employees doing remote work, and notices spoofing healthcare providers.
Google’s systems also detected malware-laden websites pretending as official sign-in pages of social media platforms, health organizations, and official COVID-19 maps. Mark Risher, Google’s Senior Director for Account Security, Identity, and Abuse, shared that there are 18 million malware and phishing attempts, as well as 240 million spam messages linked to COVID-19 surface online every day.
Addressing these cybersecurity threats, Google has integrated advanced security protections into its products. These mechanisms automatically detect and block threats before they reach you. Gmail, for example, can identify and stop more than 99.9% of malware, phishing, and spam messages. Another product, Google Play scans apps before you download and install them. As the world’s leading Internet browser, Google Chrome comes with built-in security that notifies you about fraudulent websites.
But apart from Google doing its part in protecting users from these threats, it is important that you, as a user, know the signs of a COVID-19 scam. When doing an online transaction that involves your bank details or personal information, make sure that the website you’re dealing with is legitimate. Check the URL of the site: impostors usually add words or letters to them.
When doing remote work, use your corporate email on the device issued by your company. Companies usually enable or add security features to your corporate email or company-issued device, so they are more protected against cybersecurity threats.
Make sure that you use strong passwords for your devices, apps, and web-based platforms that require you to sign in when accessing them. Android, Chrome, and your Google Account have a password manager that can help you.
The last but not the least, never neglect to install security updates once you get a notification. These security updates solve known vulnerabilities that cybercriminals may exploit and use to penetrate your system.