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Coronavirus: advice to avoid online scams

The Coronavirus outbreak has led to the birth of many types of online scams that use the name of the disease to extort money from the unfortunate.

As if fake news spreading panic and insecurity, fake fundraisers, phishing emails, apps downloading malware were not enough. Criminals and cybercriminals are definitely keeping up with the times

One of the most recent cases to make the news is the ransomware CovidLock, a powerful virus that resembles an app, able to block Android phones and then ask for a ransom in bitcoin. 

Attempts are countless and they are becoming increasingly advanced. Ranging from fake tests for finding out whether someone is infected to those who pretend to be in charge of collecting possible benefits from governments to then forward them to the contributor, unaware of dealing with a scammer who will then disappear. 

There are also many companies at risk, which have made their employees work remotely to cope with the lockdown or simply to contain the risk of contagion. 

So here’s some advice from Gill Langston, Head Security Nerd at SolarWinds MSP to help protect against attacks. At a time when many companies are resorting to smart working, it is not easy for employees working remotely to distinguish between official and fraudulent communications. Both companies and employees need to be very careful and report any abnormal actions. 

Here is Gill Langston’s advice:


  • Only visit recommended sites or view the official communication emails.
  • Do not click on links in other emails or open attachments from emails that reference the coronavirus outbreak, unless you can verify the sender.
  • Carefully inspect the “From,” “Reply To,” and signatures or text for misspellings and errors. Hint: if you click “Reply” to an email, you can see the actual “Reply To” email address at that point.
  • Hover over links in emails to view the address the link will take you to. Shortened links and jumbled URLs are a risk as they can hide the actual website you’re taken to.
  • Never supply credentials to a site you accessed from an email, unless you are 100 percent sure the site is legitimate.
  • Supply IT with any emails you receive that may be suspicious.


It is always important for companies that require their employees to be smart working with company PCs to ensure that their devices are adequately protected with appropriate security measures and have their IT departments available to users working remotely. 

All this can guarantee business continuity and protect the company from cyber threats. 

In any case, these are tips that are suitable for all those who surf the net and who must not fall for the urge to find information about the epidemic at all costs. It is always better to refer only to official websites, being wary of imitations.

Eleonora Spagnolo
Eleonora Spagnolo
Journalist passionate about the web and the digital world. She graduated with honours in Multimedia Publishing at the University La Sapienza in Rome and completed a master's degree in Web and Social Media Marketing.