Scamovirus, the new 2020 threat

If you are now working from home on a computer, you’ve noticed that never before have we witnessed so much malware, phishing and ransomware scams and other deceptive email practices than during this COVID-19 “stay at home” period. The bad actors with way too much time on their hands see a goldmine of opportunity as employees work from home, outside the corporate firewalls.  

We hope this will help you recognize and avoid being victimized by these scams.

Phishing

  • How: From an email or text message, you are tricked into providing personal information like: name, address, phone, email, social security number, account numbers and passwords. 
  • Why: They are trying to gain access to your bank account, credit card account, an online payment website you use, like Amazon.
  • How to Recognize: They usually look like the company you know or trust: same logo, colors, type font, even the same mottos or taglines. There’s usually an effort to scare you. They may say they noticed suspicious activity in your account, or you have a problem with your payment information, or you need to confirm some personal information for your own safety. Sometimes they even say you’re entitled to a refund or offer a freebie gift. Lately, they may suggest you need to provide personal information to become eligible for another government handout.

If read carefully, you may recognize bad grammar, typos, or unnatural arrangement of words and phrases that suggest a non-English speaking writer.

The better scammers are difficult to identify, like this refund notice from Amazon (compliments of GoPTG). If you’d recently purchased from Amazon, the notice looks flawless — so you click. However, if you had not made a recent purchase, alarm bells go off! So you click the link to quickly update both your address and your password. Bingo! A spammer’s double header.

Conscientious companies require home-based employees to log in for work-related activity, so it is usually our personal activity that serves as the playground for bad actors in cyberspace.

If you receive an email that looks “fishy”, right click on the “From” email address. If it doesn’t match, you will know immediately that the email is fake. You can learn more about these nefarious practices on the FTC Consumer Information website and scams specific to COVID-19 here.

Stay safe and remember, we’re all in this together.

Home Work

How to work from home and still stay productive during the pandemic.

Okay everyone, your assignment this month, maybe next month, and who knows for how long, is to work from home to avoid spreading the Coronavirus. Sound familiar? 

Thanks to technology, we can now work from home as long as we have a good Internet connection. But it takes far more than large data transfer, cloud access, and backup servers. It takes commitment, willpower, focus, and planning.

Since our humble beginnings as website designers in 1995, we’ve worked from home. Excuse me for sounding a bit too much like Farmer’s Insurance, but “we’ve seen a thing or two” so we know what we’re talking about. Working from home is convenient and saves a ton of gasoline and lunch money, but it has its challenges. With most of our friends and clients also working from home this month, we thought we’d share our wisdom with other suffering souls of social distancing.

If you are working from home:

  1. Stay close to a routine
    Remember how you’d wake up, put on the coffee, shower, dress, then grab a mug for the drive to the office? By the time you got to your desk you were ready to work. At home, use a similar routine but in lieu of the commute, take 15-minutes to check the news online and respond to business emails. Handle personal texts and emails during a mid-morning 15-minute break or at lunchtime.
  2. Look good to yourself
    Leave the nightwear in the bedroom. Puffy pants are OK, but only the nice puffy pants, with a coordinated shirt. Better yet, wear comfy pants that you wouldn’t mind wearing in mixed company outside of the house. We feel like we look; look sharp, feel sharp. Shower, shave and brush your teeth and hair.
  3. Work like your boss is watching
    Without the daily structure of scheduled meetings and routine tasks, it’s important to keep a list of tasks (when you check them off as complete, it feels good) and learn how to shift gears between work and personal. Create white noise with your favorite music, but except at noon or in the case of a national emergency, leave the television off.
  4. Create a work space
    Avoid any work space that closely resembles a couch, La-Z-Boy® chair, pool float, or kitchen stool — places you associate with leisure time. There’s something about “down time” seating that makes eyelids start to close. If you don’t have a home office or desk of some sort, designate a specific room or surface in your home from which to work.
  5. Set boundaries
    Unless your job is working for yourself, your company, or others’ social media platforms, it’s best to stay away except during short scheduled breaks in the day. Creating boundaries for the easy things makes it easier to focus on the more difficult tasks that may lay ahead. 

At the end of the day, log off from your laptop and say “I’m done!” Saying it out aloud signals to your brain that it’s the end of the day, time to stop thinking about work. Once you commit to the workday’s end, the stress will drain away. It’s common that a relaxed mind will discover solutions to nagging problems, and fresh creative ideas form out of nowhere. Jot it down. Go play.