Working from home has become a bit of a common term lately. Some of us hate it, some of us love it, some of us don’t care. Cyber criminals are loving it! The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has issued an alert on COVID-19 related cyber activity, stating they “are seeing a growing use of COVID-19 related themes by malicious cyber actors”. Now it is more important than ever to be aware of common ways a cybercriminal can attack an individual or organization.  

The most common attack a cybercriminal will use is social engineering. In fact, this is how most big data breaches start. Social engineering is when an attacker uses some sort of human interaction to obtain information about an individual or organization. They may use emails, phone calls, or text messages to achieve this. The most common form of social engineering is using emails, called phishing.

When a cybercriminal is attempting to phish an organization or individual, they will often impersonate another organization or well-known person. The cybercriminal may take advantage of current events, times of the year, and our own human curiosity to get us to follow a malicious link or open a malicious attachment.  

Common indicators of phishing attempts would be the following: Suspicious sender address, generic greetings and signatures, spoofed websites, spelling and layout, and suspicious attachments. Be suspicious of unsolicited emails and do not provide any information unless you are sure of the legitimacy. If you’re suspicious of an email, try calling the sender to verify the email, but never use a phone number from a suspicious email. If you come across a phishing email, you should report it to your IT (Information Technology) or Security team. You can also report phishing emails directly to the CISA by forwarding the email to phishing-report@us-cert.gov.

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