It has been over a year since the pandemic began and cyber threats have thrived during this period. In April 2020, we witnessed a huge spike of phishing emails and smishing text messages, which led to various cyber attacks and scams. Research data shows that spam messages increased by more than 220 times during the first month of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Scammers often leverage a hot topic to spread misinformation and lure a targeted audience, such as the promise of COVID-19 vaccines.
Misinformation can impact all ages from kids to senior citizens and it may have a lasting and unpredictable impact on our community. Cyber scammers are spreading misinformation to initiate cyber scams through email, social media, and messaging applications. Tactics have become more nefarious and misleading than ever before. Based on recent FTC data, one major target for scammers is senior citizens’ retirement savings.
Cybercrime has increased at an unprecedented rate as misinformation and disinformation evolve in the form of chain messages, deepfakes, and phishing via voice, text and email. All of these tactics can cause financial and reputational damage. It should come as no surprise that tech companies are pivoting their focus from surviving the pandemic to providing solutions to address these growing cybersecurity challenges.
Individuals and businesses must be able to work and enjoy the internet safely – especially given our increased reliance on digital connectivity in the last year. Here are five tips for users to observe good cybersecurity hygiene:
- Use strong passphrases and a password manager
- Enable multi-factor authentication (also known as two-factor authentication) on all accounts that support it (email, banking, online shopping, etc.)
- Back-up and protect your sensitive data and personal identifiable information (PII). Follow the 3-2-1 rule: have 3 copies of your data, on two different media, with one copy stored off-site.
- Pay close attention to possible phishing emails, texts and phone calls (think before you click).
- Pay attention to security settings at both the user level and device level. For example, free public WiFi can be spoofed easily. Try to avoid connecting to public WiFi and use a hotspot or VPN instead.
In addition to good cybersecurity hygiene, we recommend leveraging some of the reputable cybersecurity tools on the market. At the consumer level, most security products are moving to a Software-as-a-Service subscription model (SaaS).
Due to the proliferation of mobile devices and recent work-from-home requirements, businesses must provide their employees and customers with protection beyond their corporate offices. Cybersecurity vendors are being challenged to move quickly from protecting on premise computing devices only to protecting all the data points from the cloud to endpoints in the office and home. Cyber attacks or scams often start by tricking the user to click on a fake or socially engineered email with misinformation. In this way, cyber criminals are able to exploit the most vulnerable link in the cybersecurity ecosystem.
To help users with these challenges, Trend Micro released several new free cloud-based tools to help home and mobile users stay safe from scams and misinformation. According to Trend Micro’s Consumer Director, Brook Stein from San Jose California, “This is part of giving back from Trend Micro to our communities in helping users enjoy their digital life safely. These free new tools will complement users’ existing Trend Micro or other antivirus products.”
Please take care of your cybersecurity hygiene and ensure you have reputable cybersecurity protections installed. We wish you an enjoyable 2021 internet experience!
Trend Micro Free Tools: Aiming to empower communities for a safer digital world, Trend Micro has created a family of free tools to help users to better protect their online activities and devices. For example, Trend Micro Check can detect and provide instant feedback on misinformation, fraud, scams, and malicious websites. HouseCall is an award-winning, cloud-based threat detection tool often used when the antivirus tools on your PC or Mac have been compromised by the attackers. Please check out these tools to help you enjoy your digital life safely. https://www.trendmicro.com/en_us/forHome/online-scanner.html