Cybersecurity: watch out for messages about COVID-19

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Federal agency that monitors online threats warns fraudsters imitate COVID-19-related content to trick victims into clicking malicious links and attachments.

In a report published on Wednesday, the Canadian Center for Cyber ​​Security said that online crooks are very aware of the feeling of anxiety of citizens in the face of the pandemic, and that they can let their guard down when they receive emails, texts or advertisements related to the coronavirus.

The Center claims that these “COVID − 19 decoys” often attempt to imitate the image and style of very legitimate institutions, such as international organizations or public health agencies. Scammers can produce very convincing copies of government websites and official correspondence.

A text-based phishing campaign claimed to provide access to a Canada Emergency Benefit (CEP) payment, but only when the “target” disclosed personal financial details.

Another campaign was masquerading as Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, to spread malware through a bogus ‘COVID − 19 update’, which seemed to be everything. completely official and authentic.

The report from the Canadian Center for Cyber ​​Security, the most recent “Canada’s National Cyber ​​Threat Assessment 2020,” says the COVID − 19 pandemic has illustrated how reliant the Canadian economy is on digital infrastructure.

“With the surge in the number of Canadians working at home, protecting the cyber infrastructure, telecommunications infrastructure, hardware, software and the supply chains that support them is critical to ensuring national security and Canada’s economic prosperity, ”the report reads.

“In the context of COVID − 19, this trend has accelerated to allow Canadians to work, shop and socialize remotely. (…) However, as devices, information and activities turn to the internet, they also become vulnerable to cyber threat perpetrators. ”

While online foreign interference activity tends to increase around elections, these fraudulent campaigns have broadened their reach since 2018, in order to respond and adapt to current events, the Center warns.

“For example, we noted that the focus of recent (meddling) campaigns has turned to COVID − 19 and the actions taken by governments in the face of the pandemic,” the report said.

“Disinformation campaigns have also sought to discredit and criticize Canadian politicians with the aim of damaging their reputation,” it continues.

“However, we believe that, compared to other countries, Canadians do not present a priority target for online foreign influence campaigns, but the positions taken by Canada on priority geopolitical issues. could increase the threat. ”

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