Whether it’s toilet paper, facemasks, or chloroquine, people are acting first and thinking later when it comes to the Coronavirus crisis. Retailers have been able to curb this with purchase limits and rules limiting the ability to return items. And to take advantage of these panic instincts, scams have become rampant throughout the United States with ineffective personal protective equipment, fake tests, fake cures and more. But it’s not only snake oil salesmen on the street we need to look out for.
Google has noted a 350% spike in scams online.
Hackers are coming out in droves because of this emergency, creating hundreds of thousands of websites listed as coronavirus, COVID-19, viruses, vaccines, and pandemics. Of course, some of these websites (like coronavirus.gov) are official resources to help people get the information and help they need. Other sites (like coronaclock.live), while not officially sanctioned, try to provide accurate information to help citizens navigate the chaos. Some sites (like moronavirus.site) are simply capitalizing on the news with some fun.
However, thousands of these new websites are much more sinister. RiskIQ, a San Francisco cybersecurity company identified 316,523 suspicious coronavirus related websites between March 9 and March 23. Google found 522,495 phishing sites in March alone. A TransUnion survey has found that 22% of Americans have been the target of coronavirus-related scams online.
At the time of writing, there are 3 times more COVID-19 related phishing sites than COVID-19 cases in the United States
Staying and working from home has led to an increase in time spent online. The Washington Post has reported an increase in screentime of 30% to 180%. So with more time spent online, and new uncertainty every day, it’s more important than ever to be cautious online and double-check your business and personal cybersecurity practices. That includes securing your own website from outside threats and ensuring you are protecting your customer data.
If you’re hosting your site on WordPress, take some time to make sure your backend is secure. If not, your site could easily be used as a host for the latest coronavirus scam. WordPress sites that are not updated with the latest security patches can easily be compromised. Make sure you’re not sending personal information to sites you don’t trust, and update your passwords regularly.