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May 14

Coronavirus Texting Scams

Written by: Jack Loomis, Cyber Security Specialist

In this day and age, we know that technology is everywhere. Not only that but just about everything we do involves it. With all of the threats to our computers, networks, and personal information, it’s easy to forget the most common avenue an attacker can use to get sensitive information from a person or a network: text messaging. In the past, scammers would use impersonating phone calls to try and scam people out of money or giving up their private information like passwords, credit card numbers, and more. Now that texting has become the “norm,” attackers have shifted their efforts to utilize that tool.

Texting is more anonymous and doesn’t require the same level of social engineering that a phone call does. Where an attacker needs to be more charismatic on the phone and think on their feet, through texts, attackers can take as much time as needed to craft the perfect message. Now, with the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world it, unfortunately, gives attackers another very hot avenue to attempt to scam people out of their personally identifiable information. Attackers are able to utilize tools that allow them to mask their real phone number, using a fake one to send a message and make it look as legitimate as possible. Something as simple as “Someone you know may have been affected by COVID-19. Please click the link below to learn more information.”

These attacks are harder to always identify, as it can look very legitimate. We all receive mass texts at times, even coming in the form of a national alert. In a pandemic situation such as this, it’s understandable that something like that may be legitimate. So how do we protect ourselves from falling victim to these types of scams? There are a few guidelines that can be followed:

  1. A legitimate organization sending these messages will have their phone numbers documented,
    and if a text claims to be from a legitimate organization, one should always reach out to that
    organization separately from the text message to verify the legitimacy of the message.
  2. Never respond to any text message that looks like it could be a scam. This could be another tool
    that an attacker uses to get you to divulge more information through social engineering.
  3. As is the practice with emails, never click links in a text message that looks suspicious. If a
    message is claiming to send you to a “legitimate” website, visit the website on your own without
    clicking the link. This will prevent you from being sent to a “spoofed” (fake) site that looks
    identical to the real one.

It’s unfortunate that attackers would utilize the world’s current situation to attempt to steal
information, but that is truly how malicious attackers operate. They will prey on any situation that they think can be exploitable. By knowing what to look out for and what steps to take, we can better protect ourselves from these attackers and continue to stay safe both in the physical world and the electronic one. If you have any further questions or would like to reach out to Southshore Managed IT Group for more information, please give us a call at (219) 226-3386.

Click here to check out this week’s security tip video on this topic!

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