We are in the middle of an unprecedented international event. This pandemic has impacted every single one of us in one way or another:
- Business closings
- Events canceled
- Jobs impacted or lost
- Resource shortages (TP anyone?)
- Quarantines away from friends, family and social gatherings
- The list goes on and on…
As a result, many of us are afraid, confused and looking for answers. Unfortunately, criminals know this. They are deliberately taking advantage of our vulnerable state of mind. They have responded with a literal flood (Sophos calls it an “infodemic”) of bad information, seeking to profit from our anxiety. Examples include:
- Fake “cures” such as Superblue Toothpaste (There is no legitimate cure yet. Anyone claiming to have one is lying.)
- Counterfeit medicines and fake personal protection equipment like masks (Interpol just seized 34,000 fake surgical masks that were being sold to us)
- Fake fund-raising sites and charities (be careful of GoFundMe pages)
- Again – the list goes on and on…
In short, a criminal has provided a malicious response to every single thing we are afraid of. Do you want to help? Here is a fake charity set up to steal your money. Are you looking for medicine? Here is site selling worthless cures and probably also stealing your credit card information. Do you need answers? Here is a site full of viruses and malware waiting for you to click on it. It has gotten so bad that the Attorney General for New York has asked domain name registrars (the guys who hand out www addresses to new websites) to crack down on who they are selling addresses to.
What can we, as ordinary citizens, do? The biggest thing to do is get your information from reliable sources. Recognize that many social media sites could be from malicious sources that are specifically designed to prey on our fears.
Reliable sources include:
- Chemung County COVID-19 information page: https://www.chemungcountyny.gov/coronavirus_covid-19/index.php
- Chemung County Health Department: http://www.chemungcountyhealth.org/
- The World Health Organization (WHO): https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
- Center for Disease Control (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Also, please take advantage of the Chemung County hotline and email address set up to help each and every one of us through this: firstname.lastname@example.org or call our hotline 24/7 at 607-873-1813. We are here to answer your questions and point you in the right direction.
Protect yourself. Protect your loved ones. Stay safe out there.