The world will remember 2020 for many reasons, and very few of them are positive. The Covid-19 pandemic completely flipped the world on its head and resulted in people across the world having to make significant changes to their daily lives.
Cyber security is an industry that was significantly impacted by these changes. Many of us were forced to turn our living room into a home office and with this change came a whole host of security and privacy concerns.
Scammers also took advantage of the fear and anxiety created by the pandemic to develop a new range of cyber threats, all with a distinct coronavirus theme. Fake vaccines, online delivery phishing scams and government impersonation schemes left thousands of people out of pocket and at risk of their personal information ending up on the dark web.
What is the dark web? The term refers to the branch of the internet that is inaccessible via standard search browsers. Plenty of illegal activity occurs here, including the sale of personal information that can be used to commit identity theft.
Unfortunately, 2021 looks likely to deliver much of the same bad news. Whilst there is hope on the Covid-19 front — with vaccines being slowly approved and distributed across the world — cyber criminals are only set to increase their scamming efforts. Keep reading to discover just a few of the scams to watch out for in 2021.
Scams to watch out for in 2021
Even before a vaccine had been officially approved, scammers took advantage of people’s stress and naivete and attempted to peddle off fake Covid-19 cures. Experts predict that the prevalence of vaccine-related scams will only increase in the new year, with cybercriminals promising false opportunities to skip the vaccine queue or gain early access to treatment.
Home office based attacks
Some lockdowns may have lifted, however many employees will continue to work from home throughout 2021. As such, there is a high probability that cyberattacks on home office infrastructure will continue in the new year. A lack of proper cybersecurity in a home office setting leaves company servers open to infiltration, with company and client data at huge risk.
Attacks on the ‘new normal’
Both individuals and businesses will adjust to a new normal in 2021; travel will return in some capacity, workers will transition back to the office and employment levels will hopefully rise. This transition period is set to attract the attention of scammers who will be looking to take advantage of individuals trying to become accustomed to the ‘new normal’. Phishing attacks will likely be the medium of choice.
Stay safe online
Combating these scams will take a combination of knowledge, quick wits and comprehensive online security software. Follow these tips to stay safe this new year:
Use a VPN: What is a VPN connection? A VPN is also known as a virtual private network, and is a type of encrypted connection that protects your location and personal information from prying eyes. It is particularly important to use a VPN in your home office — doing so could save you and your business from a serious cyber attack.
Be wary of ‘fake news’: Cybercriminals thrive off confusion and uncertainty. Misinformation, or ‘fake news’ encourages people to act impulsively, going to extreme lengths — for example, buying a vaccine off the internet — to protect themselves from misunderstood threats. Ensure you are receiving your information from legitimate sources and be wary of any news stories that are circulating solely on social media.
Invest in dark web monitoring: If your private information has been stolen or lost through a data breach, there is a good chance it could end up on the dark web. Unfortunately, once information is posted there, it is practically impossible to have it removed. Dark web monitoring will at least alert you to the fact that your information has been breached, so you can take steps to mitigate the damage.
Avoid phishing scams: Phishing — the impersonation of legitimate companies by cybercriminals — is a common tactic used by scammers and can be quite effective. With all the change that is expected in 2021, cybercriminals will be hoping that their targeted victims don’t look too closely at the emails and text messages they receive and will unknowingly share their personal data.
Staying safe online is not an easy task, particularly considering the rate of which cybercriminals are evolving and introducing new strategies. Stay on top of their tactics and stay safe this new year — which will hopefully be happier than the last!
Bridget is a writer and editor, currently living in Melbourne. She is a copywriter for Newpath Web and loves working with words of all shapes and sizes. When not playing around with punctuation and grammar, she enjoys travelling and curating her Spotify playlists.