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How Hackers Use Coronavirus to Steal Private Info

The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 (coronavirus) is putting more at risk than your health. Online hackers are taking advantage of our urgency in gathering information about the health crisis and how to protect our families, employees and communities. Hackers are using phishing emails, malicious mobile apps and corrupt web images to hack into computers and mobile phones to steal personal information.

With more people working from home, hackers know there’s a drastic increase in Internet use and are getting creative in luring individuals into downloading malware and viruses. In order to keep your personal information, like passwords, banking access, and business records secure, you need to understand the most popular routes hackers are taking over your computer.

  1. Malware

What is malware? Malware is malicious software specifically designed to compromise your network and perform specific functions that allow the hacker to steal or delete your sensitive information, track your online activity or modify your network’s capabilities. Multiple actions can be an invitation to malware takeover, like running an antiquated operating system or clicking on unknown links that can install pirated software. There are several types of malware, including:

  • Virus: A virus can infect your software, rending the entire operating system inoperable or locking you out of specific files or folders.
  • Trojans: This type of malware is often used to track your online activity and provide a backdoor route to gaining your secure data, like login credentials and credit card information. Trojans can attack your system when you download what appears to be legitimate software but is laced with malware.
  • Spyware: As its name implies, spyware is designed to spy on you. It runs in the background while you perform normal online activity, tracking your every move. It collects passwords, credit card number, chats, and keystrokes.
  • Keylogger: This specific spyware records each of your keystrokes and the sites on which you type them. The data is sent to the hacker who analyzes the information to determine your passwords and other sensitive information.

To avoid a virus attack on your network, keep your operating system up to date and implement a high-quality antivirus software. HTC offers free antivirus protection to all residential high-speed Internet customers. The Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security software provides intuitive protection without slowing your computer. If you’re an HTC home Internet subscriber, follow these steps to download your free antivirus software.

  1. Phishing Emails

What is phishing? Phishing is a fake email veiled as authentic. Hackers have become increasingly skilled at crafting legitimate-looking emails designed to steal your confidential information like passwords and bank account details. These malicious emails will often appear to come from a familiar source, like a friend, coworker or local organization. There’s typically a sense of urgency involved in the message advising you to take swift action – like download a document or click on a link.

In some cases, the harmful link will take you to a fake website that mirrors a real company with which you do business, like a bank or utility company. The site will prompt you to enter your login credentials, but that private information will be sent to the hackers rather than your bank, giving the digital thieves the information needed to access your finances.

To protect yourself and your business from the damage caused by phishing emails:

  • Be vigilant in looking for small details that can alert you something is wrong. Minor misspellings, like info@gmall.com instead of info@gmail.com (“l” instead of “i”), are missed with a quick glance.
  • Think twice before you click on a link or email attachment. Is the information from a confirmed known source? Hover over the link to get a preview of where you’ll be directed, or, instead of clicking the outbound link, go directly to the company’s website and login securely.
  • If the email seems unusual, contact the presumed sender directly to confirm the information came from them.
  • Install a firewall that will protect your computer and network by digitally scanning each message and its contents before you receive it.
  1. Malicious Mobile Apps

What are malicious mobile apps? Don’t mistake every app available on Google Play or Apple store as legitimate. Some apps contain malicious code that gives hackers access to your private information. Downloading one of these questionable apps can install malware on your device. The malicious app may also request excessive permissions that give hackers access to nearly every portion of your phone. When you download a new app, be wary of any application that requests access to:

  • Accounts access: Hackers gain access to contact lists and email addresses.
  • SMS permission: Makes it possible for hackers to SMS premium-rate numbers at your expense.
  • Microphone access: Hackers can record your conversations.
  • Device admin permission: Can possibly allow hackers to take remote control of your device. They can also track your location or completely clean the phone of data.
  • Contacts: Makes it possible for hackers to steal your contacts and sell it to ad networks.

Reading the fine print is crucial. Always check the permissions the app is requesting before you download. Read online reviews and ratings and be cautious of any app that has very few downloads. Avoid apps from third party app stores.

Hackers and coronavirus

As you search for the latest information regarding COVID-19, hackers are crafting new ways to take advantage of your concern. More of your employees are working from home. Don’t ignore the need to protect your business network with the support of a professional IT team. HTC Professional Services can provide the hardware necessary to shield your sensitive data and the remote support needed to keep your business up and running despite skillful attempts by hackers to access your company’s network.