Cyber Crimes During a Global Pandemic
Posted in General on April 20, 2020
In recent weeks, the FBI anticipates that cyber actors will exploit increased use of virtual environments by government agencies, the private sector, private organizations, and individuals as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These virtual environments are essential communication services for telework and education, in addition to conducting regular business as the world adapts to the new norm the virus has brought on. Cyber predators will take advantage of this and will tap into vulnerable systems to steal sensitive information and target individuals and businesses potentially for extortion.
Modern day computer mischief includes many forms of viruses and hijacking programs by which someone can take control of your computer, often without one’s knowledge. Establishing that this happened requires a great deal of computer expertise. Apart from any school or workplace policies that address bullying and harassment, Rhode Island has specific laws that criminalize the use of computers to stalk and harass others. To be a violation, there must be communication or contact through a computer or some other electronic device for the sole purpose of harassment. Based on recent trends, the FBI has assessed that these online predators will especially target individuals working from home via telework software’s such as education technology platforms, and new Business Email Compromise schemes.
Computers allow transactions to occur across great distances with no physical contact or face-to-face meetings. This is especially important during this time as we all our doing our part to stay apart. Computers also provide the ability to contact others without their permission and to do so either with great fanfare (like retailer ads) or with total anonymity. Computer crimes can also invoke multiple jurisdictions embracing both state and federal charges. Below you will find some means that cyber predators use to exploit telework applications:
Cyber criminals can target communication tools like VOIP phones, video conferencing equipment to overload services and take them offline or eavesdrop on conference calls. Additionally, video-teleconferencing (VTC) can be hijacked by cyber criminals to disrupt conferences by inserting pornographic images, hate images, or threatening language.
Education Technology Services and Platforms
If not monitored closely, e-learning services and platforms can allow for privacy and safety violations to students. Cyber predators can access student’s contact information, education plans, homework assignments, medical records, and counselor reports, and then used that information to contact, extort, and threaten students with physical violence and release of their personal information.
Business Email Compromise (BEC)
BEC is a scam that targets both individuals and businesses who send wire transfers, checks, and automated clearing house (ACH) transfers. Typically, the victim receives an email from the cybercriminal that is posing as a company the victim normally conducts business with; however, the email requests money be sent to a new account, or for standard payment practices be altered.
Taking the appropriate action is imperative during these times that we are all turning to life online. Here are a few steps you can take to further protect yourself from cyber crimes:
- Use Caution Using Public WIFI:
- As WIFI becomes key in communicating, keep in mind that public WIFI allows for anyone nearby who is connected to the same network access to what your computer is sending and receiving online. There are free browses like Tor and the use of virtual private networks to encrypt all your internet traffic and everything that goes through your browsers.
- Encrypt and Back Up Your Most Important Data:
- Encrypting the data that’s stored on your smartphone and computer is a strong way to avoid cyber predators. If a hacker copies your encrypted files, all they would receive from the encrypted data is gibberish, rather than any of your information. This can sometimes involves installing software or changing system settings within your device. For data that’s crucial, like medical information, it’s important to keep separate copies both locally and on an external hard drive for your protection.
- Enable Multi-Factor Authentication:
- It is an extra step that makes it harder for a hacker to break into your accounts. Whenever you have the option, enable multi-factor authentication, especially for crucial and all private accounts. Additionally, consider getting a physical digital key that can connect with your computer or smartphone as further level of protection.
If you are facing any of these computer-related charges, or expect that you soon will be, get the help of an experienced Rhode Island internet crime lawyer who knows the special issues that crop up in computer crime cases, and has the contacts in the professional computer world to combat the state’s resources. Call the Rhode Island Law Offices of Stefanie A. Murphy today for an experienced, aggressive, and focused criminal defense lawyer.
“FBI Warns of Possible Cyber Crimes during Coronavirus Pandemic.” South Tahoe Now, southtahoenow.com/story/04/02/2020/fbi-warns-possible-cyber-crimes-during-coronavirus-pandemic.
Jul 25, 2019. “5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Cybercrime.” GCN, gcn.com/Articles/2019/07/25/cybercrime-defenses.aspx?Page=2.