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COVID-19: Police urge vigilance against cyber fraudsters

Police are urging people to be vigilant of the threat from fraudsters exploiting the Covid-19 outbreak to steal money and sensitive data online.

The public is being advised to follow online safety advice. Officers are asking people to be aware of scam emails and rely on only trusted sources of information.

Examples of scams include emails notifying people they are eligible for tax rebates or bogus online maps claiming to show the spread of the disease, which then infect devices when you click on them.

Detective Constable Jon Hill, of Cumbria Constabulary’s Cyber and Digital Crime Unit, said: “The public obviously has a thirst for information in these difficult times.

“People are at home and they may go looking for information online about Covid-19.

“The problem comes if they start clicking on unreliable web pages or opening links and attachments often sent by email – a common form of scam called ‘phishing’.

“We need people to follow and rely on only trusted sources of information and be aware of all suspect emails with supposed information on COVID-19, not to open any links or attachments that come with them and delete those emails.”

RANSOMWARE – ADVICE FOR BUSINESSES 

DC Hill added: “Ransomware is a key priority for businesses to protect themselves against.

“This form of malicious software prevents you from accessing your computer, with suspects normally requesting you make a payment (the ransom) to unlock it.

“Such attacks can have a devastating impact on business, more so in these times as businesses, their IT companies and the wider security industry may have less capacity to respond to these attacks with staff being abstracted or self-isolated.

“It is vital companies make regular backups of important files that are not connected directly to the network or their devices.
“Keep your operating systems and apps updated and ensure you use anti-virus software, keep it turned on and up-to-date.

“You should always report any such attack on your company.

“For all the public: Our advice for people is to follow the guidance they can access below.”

Everybody can find advice for their online safety and internet security from the National Cyber Security Centre: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/

To report a scam call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

SOME KEY CYBER CRIME PREVENTION MESSAGES:

  • Don’t click on links or attachments in suspicious emails.
  • Never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal or financial details.
  • Shopping online – If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know or trust, carry out research first and ask a friend or family member for advice. Where possible, use a credit card to make the payment.
  • Protect your devices from the latest threats. Always install the latest software and app updates.

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