Omicron subvariant BF7, the new COVID thread which has resulted in a spike in cases in China, is getting some wrong attention, it seems. Over the past two days, file names and personas with the terms Omicron, BF.7, and bf7 have been spotted on several covert Telegram groups and dark web channels. If what we suspect is right, after COVID-19, the Queen’s Estate, and the FIFA World Cup, these are becoming the latest catchphrases for cyber scammers.
Timeliness is a major quality that helps cyber scammers score. We have seen record-level spikes in themed campaigns during the FIFA World Cup. Based on past indications, these are the types of scams that are likely to pop up if cyber scamsters decide to use Omicron or BF7 as bait.
These scams will target those who are vaccinated. Thanks to oversharing, hashtag searches on social media will give enough information of those who had their shots. They become easy targets for alerts for booster doses or even fake Omicron vaccines. Congratulations to those who posted their vaccination cards or certificates on their social media. You just added identity theft to the list of possible thefts!
Pro tip: Verify any announcement related to Omicron, BF7, with your trusted healthcare official. Remove any posts on your vaccination from social media or limit its viewership.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been issuing warning letters to firms for selling fraudulent products that claims to prevent, treat, mitigate, diagnose or cure COVID-19. Apart from established businesses manufacturing fake drugs, cyberscamsters too have been sending phishing links on miracle cure drugs.
Pro tip: Never open mails or click on SMS links about Omicron/BF7 vaccines or drugs.
Your municipality or town administration will not send an SMS or an email to announce a “local” lockdown. You can also expect lockdown offer scams, from free NETFLIX or Disney+ subscription offers to smart TVs at huge discounts.
Pro tip: Nothing comes for free. If you are still not convinced, check whether the offers are actually there on the social media channels of these companies.
It would be safer if we are aware of the usual features of cyber scams. Here are the common signs:
Anything from an unsolicited mail, flashy website or outlandish offers that draws our attention account for misdirection. Anytime your attention is driven toward something, you must stop and think: who is driving my attention and why?
A tantalizing offer that comes with a tiny time window that does not allow us to think should raise a red flag in our psyche.
Most of the outlandish scams usually involves a little bit of larceny, tapping in on the wish to get something for nothing. They have got illicitness built in them, and that’s a warning.
We, as part of society, respond to certain symbols of authority such as trademarks, uniforms and badges. For scammers, its usually well-designed websites with seemingly legit affiliation statements. Verify before each decision. And yes, try checking all sections of the website. Most of them don’t have nothing more than the landing page!
It’s basically the herd principle, which is the idea that just because everyone else is doing ‘something’, I should be doing that ‘something’ too. Having hordes of followers on Instagram and Facebook gives legitimacy to it because if others did it, it must be safe.