Dr Suranga Seneviratne is a computer scientist and cybersecurity expert at the Faculty of Engineering who warns that conditions caused by the pandemic are leaving Australians vulnerable to a wave of scams. It provides timely advice on how to spot scams and avoid becoming a target.
âThe COVID-19 pandemic has hit Australia again. Many of us were caught off guard and we all had to react and adapt quickly. Altered working conditions – or lack thereof, home schooling, social isolation and information overload make many of us, even tech-savvy, vulnerable to scams, âhe said. said Dr Suranga Seneviratne.
âCon artists target vulnerability and thrive in disorder – current conditions are the perfect breeding ground for this type of nefarious activity.
“Now, more than ever, we should be on high alert for possible cybercrime and scam activity targeting us.”
Lessons from Containment 1.0
âOver the past year, we have seen several pandemic-specific scam activities. The early days of the pandemic saw attempts to distribute malware using apps and websites disguised as providing COVID-19 information, âsaid Dr Seneviratne.
âThere have also been phone, text and email campaigns around the world where attackers have targeted mobile users with compelling stories, such as pandemic relief packages, test results, information on travel restrictions and early access to vaccination. At the same time, regular scams – such as romance scams and fake ads – have also increased locally and globally.
âFor example, according to the latest Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) report [link?], losses from scams exploded in 2020 – increasing 23% from 2019. The United States Federal Trade Commission reported similar trends in the United States.