News stories about the coronavirus (COVID-19) are incredibly popular on social media and other online platforms. Recently, you may have seen stories or posts on Instagram, Facebook and other outlets with information on the virus, its spread, and how to stay safe. Unfortunately, the virus’ quick spread has caused a tremendous amount of scams, cyber threats, and misinformation to also propagate through those same channels.
Online scammers and malicious actors are actively looking to profit from the fear and misinformation spreading online regarding the virus. They may send you links instructing you to download files with urgent medical information or even promise to provide you with critical vaccination information if you click a certain link. Keep an especially close eye out for these emails, and don’t fall for the tricks! Information containing links or attachments are especially dangerous, particularly if they have a “call-to-action” in them, such as a time-sensitive request or demand. Examples of this include “urgent health alerts” that you have to open as an attachment, lists of places you shouldn’t travel to that link to a website you aren’t familiar with, and similar content.
Even if an email comes from a trusted source, it’s always best to verify its authenticity. For example, if a website links to usc.edu/coronavirus, it’s always a best practice to type that URL directly into your browser’s address bar yourself.
So, how do you truly know if something is safe? If you have a doubt, never hesitate to contact us and ask. There isn’t a list of what’s explicitly safe or unsafe, but remember: if you have even the slightest level of doubt, it’s easier to be suspicious about a message and report it to us than to fall for a malicious actor’s trick and compromise your computer and the university’s networks and data. If you accidentally clicked on a link that you realized after-the-fact might have been malicious, please still report it to our team – doing so helps you, us, and the USC community.
If you want to stay up-to-date with the last information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impacts to USC, visit our USC resources portal for a set of university links that cover this topic. For IT-specific information, visit our Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity and Emergency Resources portal.