Today’s cyber threats and ways to keep safe online

The coronavirus has disrupted many aspects of daily living and precipitated changes that touch all facets of our working and personal lives. As we seek information from trusted sources and rely more than ever on online platforms to communicate with friends, family and loved ones, criminals will attempt to capitalize on our changed circumstances. Established cyber security scams, such as spoofed websites and phishing emails, are being repurposed to offer health information or safety resources while delivering malware or stealing personal information.

Cyber criminals are known for exploiting unfamiliar circumstances, particularly in times of great change. By acting quickly and knowing what to look for, businesses around the world can identify and eliminate coronavirus-related scams as we work to protect what matters most.” —  Craig Froelich, Chief Information Security Officer for Bank of America

Be alert for the most common types of cyber crime attempts

Understanding what to look for can help protect against cyber crime. The following are some of the ways cyber criminals are attempting to take advantage of people online.


Phishing messages are emails that appear to originate from known or credible sources, but are in fact from cyber criminals trying to gain access to personal information or infect devices with malware.


Vishing attempts—voice combined with phishing—come via phone. Robocalls are a method used to scam people and businesses out of data and money. Criminals will create a sense of urgency to incite quick responses from their targets.


News apps can help people stay current with latest developments, but it is important to ensure all apps that are downloaded come from reliable sources. Cyber criminals can create apps which, when downloaded, can infect devices with malicious software.


As private citizens seek current information, cyber criminals also are spoofing websites that provide updated information about the coronavirus, hoping that visitors will click on embedded links.

How to proactively protect personal information and devices

With more people working from home, it’s important to remember some best practices for protecting information.

Only use wireless networks that are secured and require a password. Be sure to change the password on home routers from the factory setting, and create a new password that is at least eight characters long.
Restrict use of all public Wi-Fi networks. If relying on a public network, use a virtual private network (VPN).
Don’t fall for the bait. Verify the URL of any site visited, particularly if loading it for the first time in the browser.
Don’t respond to emails from unknown senders or click on any links embedded in these messages.
Verify messages even if you know the sender. Cyber criminals use social engineering to impersonate people you may know through email or social messaging. Call the sender using a number you have on file if there’s anything suspicious in the message.
Keep systems and software updated. System and software updates ensure that the latest security patches are installed on devices.

Key takeaways

With National Cybersecurity Awareness month coming in October, here are some ideas to promote cyber security best practices with your employees:

Direct employees to a similar article on cyber security available on the Benefits OnLine® Education Center.

Share our guide, “Keeping your personal information safe online.”

Provide access to our cyber security checklist to help guide employees on what to do if they think their devices have been compromised.

Learn about how we protect information and tips for individuals to prevent fraud, as well as access our fraud guarantee statement.

Download our Cyber Security Journal by our Chief Information Security Office for insights and tips to help bolster your company’s cyber defenses. Consider sharing with your IT department.