Coronavirus scams: Simple steps to become savvy against online and email predators

Posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2020

image of woman typing on laptop keyboard

Worldwide, there is a significant surge in email scams linked to COVID-19 and Coronavirus. For example, emails that seem to be from renowned organizations or health authorities with convincing subject lines about cures, safety tips or fundraising efforts are sometimes actually malicious, with links and attachments that contain malware.  

Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) is also addressing a surge in fake COVID-19 informational websites, which are masquerading as government or other reputable sources to lure users to click on phishing links or provide misinformation.  

6 simple ways to protect yourself and the University

Cyber threats and attacks may result in financial loss, reputational damage, or security, privacy and data breaches. Whether you are using a University-issued laptop or a personal device for remote work, here are a few IT Security guidelines to safeguard your information and resources. 

For email threats, you can help safeguard your account: 

  1. Be wary of emails that convey a sense of urgency or request immediate action 

  1. Avoid replying to email requests for personal information, passwords or credentials 

  1. Stay away from unknown links or attachments  

  1. Review the sender’s full email address carefully. Delete emails from unknown, unsolicited, or suspicious senders, better yet, use the Report message button in Outlook   

  1. Verify that hyperlinks are trusted links by hovering your mouse pointer over the image or link without clicking on it. Confirm that the website address is familiar before clicking; if it is unfamiliar, do not click on the link and delete the email. Clickable images or links are a favourite tactic in phishing attempts. 

  1. Delete emails that include unexpected attachments and remain alert! The use of email attachments to infect computers is a common approach for cyber-attacks. 

In a time of uncertainty, it’s easy to fall victim to threats that prey on fear. As always, it is important to remain vigilant, and follow security best practices. To brush up on security, take or revisit Digital Self-Defence training online.  


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