DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — With so many people working from home, it is easier than ever to become the target of a cybersecurity attack.
Employees are plugged into their devices all day long.READ MORE: Ones For Texas: Say Thanks To Non-Profit Organizations During 'North Texas Giving Day'
A message circulating around the country claims COVID-19 cases have been detected in your area. It then prompts people to download an app or visit a website.
Maybe it was the nine-digit phone number or the fact “COVID-19” was misspelled. Either way, the text failed to fool Alex Piquero earlier this week.
Piquero said he knew the message wasn’t real “within a second of seeing the text.”
But the fraudsters messed with the wrong person. Piquero is a professor of criminology at UT Dallas.
“These scammers are preying on people’s fears and anxiety,” he said. “Cybercriminals make this information look so real.”READ MORE: 'It's Our Job': Firefighters Rescue Passenger Suffering Medical Emergency On Southwest Flight
IBM’s Chief People Hacker, who uses the alias “Snow,” said since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on Mar. 11, they have seen a 6,000% increase in COVID-19-related spam.
As part of IBM’s X-Force Red, Snow searches for loopholes in the company’s security network.
She said mysterious attachments or links could lead to malware, giving crooks access to sensitive usernames or passwords.
“If someone opens it up on their computer, the attacker then has access to their computer. They could watch their screen, turn their webcam on, they can see what the person’s typing,” Snow said.
To avoid such attacks:
- Add multi-factor authentication on all accounts
- Install security updates on all devices, especially if you use VPN for work
- Scrutinize messages for bad grammar and spelling, as well as unfamiliar email addresses
- Beware of messages that demand urgent action
- When in doubt, do not open links or attachments from unfamiliar senders
- Limit the amount of personal information shared on social media channels
- Create a complicated password for your wifi network
“All of the fear and uncertainty that’s going on right now… it’s a breeding ground for attackers,” Snow said.MORE NEWS: 1 Pilot In North Texas Military Jet Crash Released, 1 Remains Hospitalized