Companies, US Gov’t Warn Of Coronavirus Cyber Scams

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As more firms worldwide push for workers to hunker down from home in order to fend off the spread of the coronavirus, people are advised to be vigilant of online fraudsters, according to Compliance Week.

Companies worldwide are requiring or recommending that employees work off-site as a way to contain the coronavirus. But hackers who thrive on fear can easily tap this upset and steal account numbers, passwords and other identifying information.

“This is a moment that a lot of hackers across the world have been preparing for,” Brian Finch, partner at Pillsbury law firm and co-leader of the company’s coronavirus response team, according to Compliance Week. “This is an opportunity to conduct pretty robust cyber-espionage, if not cyber-hostage taking. We are already seeing a spike in cyberattacks, including on remote connection services.”

A U.K. study by epidemiologists forecasts that the coronavirus will cripple the availability of intensive care hospital beds. The study — not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal — was released Monday (March 16) by London’s Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team. The team advised the U.K. government on its response strategy.

“We know that cybercriminals are opportunistic and will look to exploit people’s fears, and this has undoubtedly been the case with the coronavirus outbreak,” said Paul Chichester, director of Operations for the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) in an NCSC post. “… In the event that someone does fall victim to a phishing attempt, they should look to report this to Action Fraud as soon as possible.”

Compliance Week reported that U.S. Attorney General William Barr wrote in a Monday internal memo to all U.S. attorneys general that “The pandemic is dangerous enough without wrongdoers seeking to profit from public panic, and this sort of conduct cannot be tolerated.”

Online retailers have to be wary of scams centering around the deadly coronavirus as it now makes its way across the world.

Amazon has removed more than 1 million products related to the virus that it determined to contain fraudulent claims, according to Forbes. Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president of Worldwide Customer Trust, said there were also tens of thousands of other products trying to price-gouge customers.