Keep personal information safe during a pandemic

People are spending more time at home, which means they’re likely spending more time online. While their attention is focused on staying healthy, they shouldn’t forget to stay vigilant about cybersecurity either.
The scams come in various forms, including fake emails from World Health Organization claiming to offer new information on the virus; emails asking users to verify personal information.

Here are a few simple steps to protect individuals and families from threats.

• Never open email or attachments from unknown senders. Many scams occur when clicking on fraudulent links or attachments in emails. Sometimes these emails can look similar to those received from legitimate sources making it difficult to notice the difference. Pay attention to details: does it look like other valid communications you’ve received? Is the sender email address correct? To check a link’s legitimacy, hover over the text to see where it will redirect.

• Guard personal information. As a general rule, don’t give credit card information or account passwords in an email.

• Hang up and call back. Not all threats occur online. Be wary of phone calls from someone asking for personal information. To confirm legitimacy, simply hang up and call the customer service phone number. In most cases, if information or payment is needed, individuals will receive a letter in the mail, not a phone call.

• Monitor texts and social media. Many use cell phones as a primary way to communicate, so it should be no surprise that cybercriminals are turning to text messages as a way to steal information. Text messages should be approached the same way as emails. Don’t click on links or share information with unfamiliar numbers. Same goes for social media. Don’t click on suspicious advertisements or links.

• Remind friends and family. Just like friends and family are reminded to stay healthy, the same should be done with cybersecurity threats. Remind loved ones, especially the elderly, to pay close attention to unsolicited emails and calls, and to limit the information they share over the internet. -BPT