While American truck drivers rise up to do their patriotic duty of delivering essential goods and products to communities, cybercriminals have also been hard at work. Digital thieves launched an unprecedented number of coronavirus-themed scams targeting an anxious and information-starved public.
Even though it may seem obscene even for criminals during the COVID-19 crisis, the hard-working men and women of the road are prime targets for cybercriminals, given the work away from home and the heightened stress levels precipitated by the pandemic. All individuals within the trucking industry should consider the following public service information to prevent our valued truckers from being ripped off by digital bandits.
What Exactly Is Cybercrime & Why Are Truckers Targets?
We all hear about the massive hacks that make splashy headlines in the news and on social media. Big corporations such as Equifax suffer cybersecurity breaches, and digital thieves pilfer off hundreds of millions in valuable data. The general public often arrives at two erroneous conclusions about these massive hacks. The first is that hackers only target major corporations to score big payoffs. The second misconception is that they don’t target everyday people. Neither could be further from the truth.
Common petty cybercriminals frequently orchestrate a series of schemes that cast a wide net. They are generally looking for someone to make an online mistake that allows them to penetrate an electronic device and swipe your personal data, such as Social Security numbers, credit card information, and bank accounts, among others. Most are nickel-and-dime criminals looking to scam what is commonly called the “low hanging fruit.” Any individual or small business that lacks firewalls, up-to-date antivirus software, fully patched applications, or simply clicks on the wrong link qualifies as an online scammer’s mark.
This information is timely and compelling given that cybercriminals have ramped up their efforts to ensnare many people working remotely with sophisticated COVID-19 schemes.
What Truckers Should Know About COVID-19 Schemes
According to a recent cybersecurity report by Atlas VPN, a surge in phony coronavirus websites were launched beginning in January. According to Atlas data, upwards of 150,000 websites were created in January. By March, that number had skyrocketed to more than 500,000 monthly, and a large number are scams.
“I believe that hackers identified coronavirus as something users are desperate to find information on,” Atlas VPN COO Rachel Welch reportedly stated. “Panic leads to irrational thinking, and people forget the basics of cybersecurity. Users then download malicious files or try to purchase in-demand items from unsafe websites, in result becoming victims of scams.”
Since the pandemic began, scam site activation has surged by more than 350 percent. Many pander overnight testing kits, immunity boosters, or pretend to be legitimate health agencies and media outlets.
The basic scam is to attract people looking for information and help. Once credit card or other personal information has been entered, the sites prompt you to click on a link. That’s when malicious software seizes control of your device or steals information that can be sold on the dark web.
When people visit a phony website, the cybersecurity industry calls that scam “spear phishing.” But the method that has proven most effective by online thieves is emails laced with malicious software, commonly called “phishing.” These are dangerous COVID-19 email phishing schemes that are being deployed.
- Health & Wellness Emails: If an unexpected email pops up offering cures, vaccines, testing kits, or home HVAC cleansing, among others, promptly delete it. COVID-19 scams work when people believe a product or service will help them through the crisis. Hackers are leveraging uncertainty and anxiety.
- Official Emails: Digital con artists have managed to send out bulk emails that appear almost identical to prominent government and health agencies such as the CDC. The chances of the average trucker receiving direct communication from one of these agencies are next to zero. Delete the message and visit only official websites such as the CDC for pertinent information.
- Workplace Emails: One of the more sophisticated schemes cybercriminals use is to send workers and independent contractors an email that appears to be from management. Although sometimes difficult to distinguish from an authentic message, it will likely ask you to download a file or click through to the your trucking company's website. If something seems suspicious, call the sender and verify it’s legitimate before moving forward.
- News Alerts & Information: Breaking news and information about the COVID-19 crisis has been an effective way to entice people to click on links. Some of the ploys include having lists of infected people or claim one of your loved ones is in the hospital. The bottom line is to always think before you click.
Since the health crisis began, an increased number of companies have converted their brick-and-mortar businesses to a remote workforce. This encouraged hackers to take a big swing with phishing bats because they are acutely aware new online workers are likely to make cybersecurity mistakes.
As we all know, CDL drivers are inherently a remote workforce. Truckers routinely conduct remote banking, accounting, bill-paying, and access credit cards from the road. With an uptick in phishing and spear phishing scams, truckers are tasked with increased diligence.
Telltale Signs of Phishing Scams
There are two distinct types of cybercriminals launching coronavirus-themed and other schemes. One set is considered highly sophisticated and savvy con artists. The others are nothing more than digital thugs. The first group sends out smartly crafted and clever emails that are difficult to detect. The second group, not so much. These are little mistakes common hackers make that can give their email scam away.
- Poor Grammar: Many originate in countries that are not using their native language.
- General Names: Many will call you “friend” or “resident.” That’s because they are casting a wide net and don’t know you personally.
- Links & Files: For the phishing scheme to work, hackers need you to download a file or click on a link. Simply do not do it.
- Call To Action: Anytime you are asked to provide information or take an action, that’s the first step to getting tripped up. It’s also a sign the email is a scam.
Keep in mind that if something online or in an email looks too good to be true, click delete. It’s also essential to know that websites and emails are not the only delivery methods hackers are using so also beware of any atypical text messages you may receive during this period.
While it is unfortunate that there are individuals who prey on people during times of distress, we hope this basic cybersecurity information proves helpful and increases your overall awareness. For more truck driving news, information, or trucking job opportunities, visit CDLjobs.com. It’s a secure website.