BREVARD COUNTY ― Cyber criminals are using the COVID-19 crisis to gain access to business and personal information. Phishing emails may pose as trustworthy organizations that contain dangerous viruses and malware. Fear or a desire to learn about a “brand-new prevention” or “source of masks” or “toilet paper” or “get your stimulus check now” are how they prey upon you.

“When it comes to protecting our computers, we should all be extra careful and not take any unnecessary risks right now,” shared Kathryn Magar, Health First’s System Director of Enterprise Risk Management. “Cyber criminals are attempting to take advantage of this pandemic to try and steal personal information and/or money.”

What can you do to protect yourself?

Pause before you click

Examine the link—when you hover over it, does it go where you expect?

Don’t click links or open attachments that you aren’t expecting.

Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, texts or email messages asking for protected information or donations.

Do your homework when it comes to donations. Don’t make a donation if someone wants it in cash, by wiring money or by gift card.

The U.S. government will not contact you via phone or email to collect personal information or bank information.

Ignore any online offers for treatment, cures or vaccinations for COVID-19—or information claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If there are any medical breakthroughs or information to be shared, you will hear about that in the media and not through email.

The U.S. government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get stimulus money. If you are unsure if an email is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting the company or organization directly using trusted contact information. Do not use contact information provided in the email or links from inside the email.

Should I use password protection even at home?

Yes, you should always password protect your computer. Many individuals are working from home or using new technology to assist with their job duties. Keep your remote workspace secure. If you are using Webex, Zoom or another application to conduct video conference meetings, be sure to use password protection, if available. Cyber criminals are barging in on meetings and conversations, overhearing sensitive information and sometimes interjecting unwanted content into the meeting itself.

If you see a scam, please report it to the World Health Organization (WHO).

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