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Why Allowing Android Apps In The Microsoft Store Is A Bad Idea?

Humans are mobile-centric. We all use smartphones as our primary devices.

If we found a way to use our favorite mobile apps natively on our laptops, our lives would become much easier. And guess what, Microsoft is doing just that!

Microsoft recently announced their new OS update Windows 11, which brings android apps and games to the Microsoft Store for the first time. Several apps, including Tiktok, Disney+, Zoom, Adobe Creative Cloud, as well as Microsoft’s in-house apps like Microsoft Teams and Visual Studio, will be available in the Microsoft Store.

Considering that Android is dominant in the mobile OS space with around 73% market share, Android app support for Windows opens the Microsoft ecosystem for a wider audience. In short, you will be able to access thousands of android apps on your Windows PC.

From the surface, Windows 11 Android app support seems impressive.

But wait, is the devil hiding in the details of this update? Or is the update worth the hype?

Let’s find out!

Intel And Amazon Are Facilitating Windows-Android Marriage

In the past, Microsoft tried convincing Android app developers to make their apps Windows compatible. Well, that didn’t go well.

This time, Windows has teamed up with Intel to make Android apps work in Windows with little to no code changes needed by app developers. All thanks to Intel’s Bridge technology.

Although you will be able to discover Android apps on the Microsoft Store, you are not directly downloading the apps from there. You need to download the apps from the Amazon Appstore. To be more precise, Amazon Appstore will be integrated into the Microsoft store.

Yes, you will need an Amazon account to download Android apps from the Microsoft Store. Once you download the mobile applications, it will work like any other Windows application. You will be able to pin those apps in the taskbar or snap them alongside other apps and much more.

The Absence Of Google Play Services

Google Play Services are tools provided by Google to app developers on their platform to make their job easier.

For instance, Google Play Services allow developers to access user location, manage in-app purchases, send push notifications, connect with other applications, and much more. It also enables developers to use the latest interfaces for popular Google across several devices.

In short, Google Play Services is the lifeblood of Android applications.

And guess what, there is no Google Play Services support for Amazon Appstore. This implies that developers publishing apps on Amazon Appstore must put extra effort and money to support some app functions.

It is no wonder why so many Android applications are not available on the Amazon Appstore.

Amazon Appstore Has Limited Apps!

According to Statitsa, Google Play Store ranks first in the app market with over 3.4 million apps. It is followed by the Apple Store that has over 2.2 million apps. As for Amazon Appstore, it comes forth with 460,619 applications.

Certainly, Amazon Appstore pales in comparison to the number of apps in Google Play Store or Apple Store.

Moreover, the Amazon Appstore does not have some notable apps. For instance, android versions of Apple Music and Snapchat are not available in the Amazon Appstore.

Does this mean you are limited to apps in the Amazon Appstore in the Windows 11 update?

Absolutely not!

A Microsoft engineer confirmed in a tweet that Microsoft would allow sideloading apps from other sources. So, in short, you are not limited to Amazon Appstore’s applications.

Although, sideloading allows you to download apps outside the Amazon Appstore. It might be a security nightmare.

Sideloading Apps Have Some Security Concerns

Essentially, sideloading refers to downloading applications that are unavailable in official app stores.

When any application is included in an app store, it is strictly checked for security flaws.

Sideloaded apps are free from such scrutiny. As a result, sideloading apps might pose a security threat to your device.

Another security concern is that the ability to download applications from other sources will enable users to access illegal app repositories. This, in turn, might corrupt your PC.

Also, sideloading isn’t easy. For instance, sideloading applications in a Chrome OS requires enabling Linux plus doing some command line work.

Till now, Microsoft hasn’t commented on the process of sideloading apps on Windows. Plus, it is still unclear whether Windows will have the ability to scan such apps for malicious activities.

The Conclusion

The Windows 11 Android app support feature could be a hit among users.

Microsoft is leaving no stone unturned to convince developers to publish applications in their native app store. From providing support for more app development frameworks to introducing a 100% revenue share model for apps that don’t wish to use Microsoft Commerce, Microsoft is doing everything.

Nonetheless, there are certain issues with the Windows 11 update. They include the limited number of mobile applications on the Amazon Appstore, the importance of Google Play Services for mobile apps, and the safety risks of sideloading apps.

Considering all this, it seems bringing a seamless Android app experience to Windows PC is no easy feat.

References –

  1. https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2021/06/24/building-a-new-open-microsoft-store-on-windows-11/?mc_cid=f92bd6a751
  2. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.computerworld.com/article/3598922/android-apps-on-windows.amp.html
  3. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2021/6/25/22550689/windows-11-android-app-sideload-amazon-app-store
  4. https://www.theverge.com/2021/6/24/22549303/windows-11-intel-bridge-android-apps-amd-arm-processors
  5. https://www.theverge.com/2021/6/24/22549303/windows-11-intel-bridge-android-apps-amd-arm-processors

Tech Talk – May/June 2021

It’s that time again, the latest edition of Tech Talk has arrived.  In this edition:

  1. Do you have a Business IT Strategy?
  2. Are you at risk of being smished?
  3. Win a $50 JB Hifi Gift Card

Tech Talk Monthly – Mar Apr 21

 

 

Best Tools & Services to Use to Create Backups of Your Website

You’ve probably already done system backups at regular intervals to an external hard drive or found an approach to automate the process. Do you follow the same steps for your website? Backing up your system helps prevent the loss of huge volumes of data in the event that something unfortunate happens — like if your computer gets damaged, hacked or even when you need to install an operating system (OS).

Similar to how your computer is vulnerable to unfortunate events and online threats, so is your website. In fact, websites are more susceptible to online threats.

Beyond taking the required security measures to protect your website, you’ll also want to backup your website often. As a result, if something does happen, you won’t have to start from scratch and deal with the loss of data. Rather, you can simply restore your website from a backup. In this article, we will learn the benefits of using a website backup service and the best ones available in the market.

Reasons You Need to Backup Your Website

It’s difficult to imagine what losing all your website data feels like until you’ve experienced it yourself. Here are three possible outcomes if you do not backup your website.

1. You Could Lose All The Data and Work You’ve Done

Developing a website takes a lot of effort and time, which multiplies when the website has a significant amount of data. Could you imagine losing years of hard work in a single night?

If you don’t have any backups, then you’ll have to build everything from scratch. Or, if you previously hired someone to make customizations to your codebase, you might need to reconsider it all over again.

2. Loss of Website Revenue

If your website has been generating revenue through services, content, or product, then you’ll have to experience the loss of all of it. If it’s based on content, you might need to write everything from scratch. In the case of a retail website, you’ll have to recreate the product images, category pages, and more.

3. Time Consumption During Site Rebuild

Some websites consist of hundreds of blogs, tutorials, and videos that have been running for years. In case you don’t have a proper backup of the website, you will have to produce all of it from scratch.

It must have taken a long time for you to create all the content, product pages, and more, and if you lose it, you will need a few more years just to get back to your starting point. All of this can be avoided with regular website backups.

Selecting the Best Backup Service/ Tools

cPanel Backups

cPanel backups are pretty simple, but there are a few pitfalls to avoid. In case you’re hosting on a server with the cPanel control panel, follow the below steps:

  • Log in to your cPanel control panel.
  • Click on the “Backup” option.
  • Choose “Download a Full Backup.”
  • Choose “Home Directory” in “Backup Destination” and enter all the required details before selecting the “Generate/ Download Backup” button.
  • You will receive an email once your website has undergone a successful backup.

However, you need to make sure that you download the backup to your device and store it safely. You must do it at regular intervals and keep the backup files in a safe place. If the backup files exist on your server, and if it goes down, you will be left without a backup.

Cloud Backups

Cloud backups are the best way to store your data. It’s ever-expanding and, with the majority of systems, is backed up and superfluous. Given below are some of the perfect cloud solutions for doing backups:

Amazon S3

It is the best cloud solution available in the market. However, getting your data backed into S3 would require you to install the server software, that is, if you have access to do so. If you’re unable to do that, there are a few tools designed to get your data onto S3. For instance, WordPress users who are unable to install software on their server may seek the help of Backup Buddy — a WordPress plugin that backs up to Amazon S3.

Dropbox

While it is not designed to be used this way, Dropbox can act as a great backup tool.

Automated Backup Solutions

Given below are some of the automated backup services, including:

Backup Machine

Backup Machine is a feature-rich backup service that offers free backups alongside automated daily website and database backups.

Codeguard

Although Codeguard offers malware detection services, it also offers manual and automatic website backups.

Dropmysite

Dropmysite connects via FTP and downloads backups. It is important to note that the system doesn’t incrementally back up the files. It just re-downloads the entire website.

The Bottom Line

Backing up a website is critical in today’s environment. When a site that is not backed up gets corrupted, it can cost thousands of dollars to restore and repair it, which is a process that can also take months to complete. Factoring in all the opportunities lost and reputations damaged, this can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the end.

With a powerful website backup service and an experienced web hosting provider, you can secure your website from any potential risks circulating online.

The Difference Between First-Party & Third-Party Cookies Explained

When you surf the web enough you become accustomed to either accepting or rejecting the pop-up boxes that ask whether the site can use cookies. Cookies are supposed to improve your overall experience on a website.

However, there’s a difference between First-Party and Third-Party cookies. These are mechanisms you might want to get yourself well-acquainted with before you tap ‘Allow’ the next time the request pops up.

What Are Cookies?

You know how sometimes you are about to log in to a social media site and the browser fills up the password and ID section for you. This is the work of cookies.

Basically, these bits of your personal data that the browser stores with your permission on your computer are what we call cookies. It basically remembers some of the important previous activities. So, as a user, the next time you visit an e-commerce website you allowed cookies for, you may not need to fill in your credit card information before checking out.

It is also thanks to cookies that a website you visited before loads faster. So, cookies certainly have their benefits. However, like we said, there are two kinds of cookies. Let’s take a look at both.

What Are First-Party Cookies?

First-party cookies are used by the website you are visiting. These are cookies that basically save the important stuff about you. They help auto-fill your email id and password on Gmail. They also save your credit or debit card information so that the only thing you have to do is enter the OTP.

First-party cookies also help you browse through a website with better ease. The pictures or videos on the website that might have taken a lot of time to load the first time you visited will load instantly the next time.

What Are Third-Party Cookies?

Third-party cookies are also known as tracking cookies. These cookies aren’t sponsored by the website you visit but by third-party websites. They peek into your browsing history and start displaying certain banner ads based on the stuff you have shown interest in the past.

In fact, the whole pop-up box where you give your consent for cookies wasn’t a thing for a long time. General Data Privacy Regulation was enacted by the European Union in 2018, which forced these third-party websites to at least ask for consent.

If the idea of certain websites tracking all your web activity to give you personalized ads doesn’t bother you, you can certainly consent to it. However, if you don’t like your web activities being tracked this way, make sure to block those third-party trackers.

On browsers like Chrome, you can go to settings and tap on Privacy and security under it. There, you will find the Cookies option. Select Block third-party cookies among them. This way, regardless of the site you visit, third-party cookies are always blocked unless you specifically change the permission.

Final Thoughts

Other than Chrome, Safari from Apple and Firefox from Mozilla are also trying to protect your privacy by blocking third-party cookies. If you know what cookies are, you can tweak the privacy settings better so that your information doesn’t get sold this way.

How The COVID-19 Pandemic Forced Adoption of Co-Managed IT

Adversity is the true test of character indeed, and Covid-19 has proved to be a tough test. The COVID-19 crisis has brought about almost a decade’s worth of changes, from the rapid inclusion of cloud technology to the mass adoption of remote working.

In fact, a study by McKinsey supports this deduction, stating that “responses to COVID-19 have speeded the adoption of digital technologies by several years—and that many of these changes could be here for the long haul.”

An important change that the pandemic brought about is the adoption of Co-Managed IT. All these changes are expected to last even after the crisis abates. Thus, it is vital to understand these changes and learn how to adapt.

What is Co-Managed IT

Co-Managed IT services allow organizations to access the external technical expertise and scalability they need. It provides the convenient framework of an IT manager while also offering the knowledge and support of a managed service provider.

A recent Canalys survey showed that almost 60 percent of the respondents agreed that the co-managed service adoption increased during the time of Covid-19. Forty-one percent of the participants admitted to seeing IT co-management frequently.

How Covid-19 Changed the IT Industry

With the remote working requirements that came with Covid-19, organizations realized that they lacked the tools required to enable a smooth transition. This led to a worldwide scramble to assemble the tools and expertise needed.

Complex Technology Requirements

IT departments need solutions that are automated. Managed Service Providers provide these automated solutions to organizations. Every organization, irrespective of its size, needs this technology to serve its customers better.

More Staffing

With large workloads and stretched IT departments, Covid-19 has put a toll on the workforce of most organizations. IT management is a time-critical industry with routine checks, repairs, and monitoring. Co-managed IT spaces allow organizations to tackle challenges and use new technologies.

Budget Cuts

Covid-19 led to budget cuts across IT departments.

To reduce expenses, co-managed IT services are the best solution. This eliminates the need for an in-house IT team and full-time employees. With primary support, an automated tool base, and easier handling of tasks, Managed Service Providers can help companies mitigate the cost cuts that came with Covid-19.

Why Co-Managed IT is a Good Fit

With Covid-19 spreading over the world, organizations have understood that Co-Managed IT is a great option. It offers the following advantages.

Keep up With the Latest Technology

Keeping up with the latest trends in technology is vital for the success of an IT firm. Co-managed services allow you to explore the latest in tech like security, software, and data processing. It also avoids the time and resources that have to be spent to train your staff.

Constant Support

You have the chance to offer complete support to your clients around the clock with co-management services. With the spread of Covid, co-management helps cover things like sick leave or vacation time, making sure that your clients are supported.

Less Responsibility

People and organizations have a lot on their plate. Lowering the responsibility they have to take on helps keep operations running smoothly. It’s easier than hiring new staff and training them.

Conclusion

Covid-19 helped organizations understand the importance of collaboration. It also promoted keeping in touch with the latest technology, despite cost cuts. Co-management is a great way to overcome both these problems and more. In addition, co-management also lets companies make the best out of their existing resources.

This trend is here to stay and could usher in a new era in the technology sector.

Why 70% of Business Leaders Feel Their Cyber Risks Are Increasing?

A few years ago, only one in every four companies did business on the internet. Today, 100% of companies rely on the internet for their business operations. Unfortunately, with this increased digital adoption comes the risk of cyberattacks.

Around 70% of business leaders accept that they are now more vulnerable to cyber attacks, as they increase by 10% every year, resulting in a significant revenue loss.

To put things into perspective, cyberattacks and data theft are amongst the top five risks faced by CEOs, according to the World Economic Forum report on global risks.

This post will discuss why organizations are shifting to more robust digital infrastructure and the effects of this adoption.

Why Is Cybersecurity Awareness Increasing Among Business Leaders?

1.     More Sophisticated Cyber Attacks

Cyberattacks are growing at an average rate of over 10% every year.

On top of this, hackers are constantly adapting to new ways to bypass the security systems. For example, cybercriminals are now launching attacks on industrial control systems rather than just focusing on data theft. Further, data is not only being copied or sold by malicious attackers. Instead, data is being destroyed and altered, causing distrust among every stakeholder. As for techniques, hackers heavily launch people-based attacks such as insider attacks, phishing, social engineering attacks, etc.

2.     Media Coverage Resulting In Loss of Trust

Customer trust is at the center of every business.

A cyberattack makes the company a headline. There will be media reports everywhere citing the amount of user data leaked. Honestly, no customer will do business with such a company if they cannot promise data integrity.

On the other hand, if a business succeeds in inducing more trust among their customers as compared to their competitors, the business will enjoy a wider customer base. It is no wonder why higher security standards are becoming a marketing tool.

3.     Increasing Losses

Globally, it is estimated that around $5.2 trillion is at risk due to cybercrimes.

The average cost of a malware attack for an organization is around $2.1 million per annum. On the other hand, malicious insider attacks cost organizations $1.6 million every year.

If we consider each type of cyber attack, the annual cost of a cyber attack for an organization stands at $13 million.

4.     Regulatory Fines

Regulations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and  California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) hold organizations accountable for not using customer data responsibly. In case of consumer data leaks, companies are heavily fined. GDPR has fines up to $23 million or four percent of annual global revenues. On the other hand, CCPA imposes small fines of up to $7,500.

There is no denying that such economic disincentive inspires more accountability. However, it also increases the financial burden of companies in case of cyberattacks.

All these factors push organizations to invest more in their cybersecurity infrastructure. Companies are investing in technologies like blockchain, cloud services, AI, ML, as well as security intelligence threat sharing applications like SIEM, DLP, NGFW, and IPS to name a few.

These investments save significant costs for companies. For instance, security intelligence and threat sharing save around $2.26 million, whereas AI and automation save around $2.09 million.

A More Secure Digital World

The increasing cybersecurity adoption will slowly create a more secure place for digital interactions.

One of the major benefits of strengthening cybersecurity infrastructure is data integrity. Data is the lifeblood of this rapidly digitizing world. Cyber attacks not only harm business, instead, everyone is at risk. When hospitals are targeted, millions of patients are at risk. Cyber attacks on the country’s defense system compromise national security. When cybercriminals attack large industrial systems, they put a dent in the entire economy. Considering all this, strengthening digital security will play a major role in the nation’s economy, and security.

Improving cybersecurity infrastructure will also promote responsible digital behavior. Let’s be honest, people are the weakest link in cyber attacks. Insider hacks, phishing, and social engineering attacks are amongst the most popular ways to intrude an organization’s security firewall. Companies are thus providing extensive training to their employees against such risks to build a digitally robust workforce. Further, they are also helping customers to adopt more robust security measures.

Conclusion

Cyberattacks are indeed the biggest challenge for digitization. However, organizations are attempting to improve their cybersecurity infrastructure to provide their customers a secure digital environment.

Tech Talk – April 2021

It’s that time again, the latest edition of Tech Talk has arrived.  In this edition:

  1. Keep your devices secure
  2. Turn your biggest Cyber Security threat into your best line of defense
  3. Win a $50 JB Hifi Gift Card

Tech Talk Monthly – Mar Apr 21

 

 

Things You Should Know Before Buying Refurbished Hardware

The thrill of saving money on electronics, be it computers, phones, or any device, by simply buying a refurbished gadget is too thrilling to ignore. It not only saves money but also allows gadgets a new lease of life as opposed to being thrown out into a landfill.

Refurbished hardware, however, is not brand new, and buyers need to ensure that they are not being ripped off. While it is natural to forego a few accessories that would otherwise accompany the device or deal with a few dents or imperfections here and there, there are a few things to keep in mind before you leap to claim what you believe to be the best deal on a refurbished product.

Refurbished vs. Open Box

It is important to differentiate between refurbished and open-box when you buy a refurbished computer or device.

An open-box gadget is one that was returned right after the purchase. Such products were returned either because the buyer didn’t want them, found a better deal, or due to factors like damaged packaging or wrong color. These products were returned before they were ever used.

Refurbished products, however, have been used before you purchase them. It might have been cleaned, repaired, or spruced up to working condition again. This often includes “pre-owned” or “reconditioned” products and then repaired to work almost as good as new.

Watch Out For Warranty

Warranty is something you might have to compromise on for the savings you get from buying a refurbished product. Some products, especially if refurbished by the original manufacturer, come with a new warranty. In some cases, you might get a warranty that still has six months on the original one year. But you need to check in advance with the seller about the possibility of an extension and the length of the warranty. This is especially true if you intend on long-term use or use for a business.

Return Policy

While you may receive a refurbished product that looks too good to be true at first glance, problems may crop up after a few weeks of use. You need to ensure that the product in question can be returned if it does not work as expected. Make sure to read the fine print of the sale and figure out options in case the product is not as good as you hoped. Also, make sure to check out the system before payment is made to avoid any hassle in the future.

Who Refurbished the Device?

There are some cases in which the company that manufactured the product refurbished it. In such cases, you have very little to worry about, as they will most probably offer you a warranty, and you might even get accessories that are normally part of the package. Some retailers even offer good open-box and refurbished products.

You can even check with some refurb specialists for great offers. Wherever you check, make sure to keep in mind that the refurbished product is in decent condition and available for a good price. It is always a better option to shell out a few extra bucks for a refurbished product from a reputed or trustworthy specialist. Check with multiple sources until you figure out the best deal possible and make sure it is legitimate before making a choice.

Conclusion

In conclusion, refurbished products are a great way to get your hands on a good product for a reasonable price. Make sure you are getting the best deal possible and keep the above factors in mind before going through with a purchase. If done right, refurbished products can save you a ton of money and give you great value addition.

How Using The Same Passwords For Work & Personal Can Be Disastrous

So you’re signing up for a brand new account, and the dreaded ‘Password’ text box pops up. Since you don’t want to risk picking a standard password, or worse, a password that you won’t remember, you do the next best thing and enter your personal account’s password. This may seem like a great idea because you’re choosing a secure password that only you know. However, the reality might be a bit more alarming than you imagined.

Every new online account requires a fresh password that can be quite frustrating to come up with, and it’s clear that many people agree with this. Microsoft estimates that around 73% of people use duplicate passwords for their accounts. If you consider the sheer number of people who go online, this number becomes extremely large, making it a significant problem.

Why is Reusing your Passwords an Issue?

All of our online accounts are connected in one way or another. For example, when we sign up for an account, we usually attach an email address to that account. Our social media apps all require an email address to confirm a person’s identity. Even professional platforms like LinkedIn have a list of all our details right on the profile page. Although this connection is highly convenient for online users, reusing passwords can put your accounts at risk.

If even one of your accounts were to get compromised, this could lead to the other one getting breached, too. All the hacker has to do is look for an account with relatively weak security and work their way up from there. This is especially true if you’re a person who has a ton of different accounts with overused passwords. Cyber breaches happen all the time, and once your personal mail gets broken into, it can be very tricky to get it back. Your information can get stolen in a matter of minutes before you even notice that anything has gone wrong.

One of the most common causes of data breaches is poor passwords, and it’s easy to see why. We’ve seen many companies put measures in place to stop this issue from occurring, but a majority of people still reuse passwords. The bottom line is, when a single password is all that stands between a cyberattack and your account, you need to make sure that the password is as complex as possible.

So What Can You Do To Solve this Problem?

The reason why people tend to keep reusing passwords is that they forget them. No one can properly remember around ten different unique passwords for their accounts. It’s simply not very plausible, unless you have a little assistance with it. Using a password manager can help you save several complex passwords on your devices without having to remember them. This makes it an easy and quick solution.

Another useful tool is two-factor authentication. Many companies use this tool to strengthen their online user accounts, and some places like Google have even set up multi-factor authentication tools. This helps strengthen the security of your account immensely. Doing a regular reset of your account passwords can also be a great way to avoid compromising your data, but this task can be quite challenging to follow through with. In case you’re looking for a quick fix, you could add a few characters to an already existing password to strengthen it.

There are many options out there, so pick the ones that are best for you. Whichever way you choose, just remember that having a solid password will help secure all your accounts and keep your online presence much more protected.

Smishing Attacks Increased by 328% in 2020!

The COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone inside their homes, pausing all physical activities for a few months. As a result, all activities shifted to online mode, and cyberspace saw more users than ever. While digital communication and economy made it easier for people to navigate through the lockdowns, it also exposed users to cybersecurity risks.

The pandemic saw an exponential increase in cybercrimes such as phishing, hacking, ransomware, cyberstalking, harassment, etc.

According to Proofpoint’s report, smishing attacks increased by 328% in 2020 alone. These attackers have been exploiting people’s fear associated with COVID-19 to send malicious messages via email, SMS, or web pages.

What is Smishing?

Smishing or SMS phishing means sending fraudulent text messages to coax victims into revealing private information or installing malware. Cybercriminals send these messages to steal credit card details or other sensitive information such as usernames or passwords to private accounts.

Attackers typically disguise themselves as reputable organizations sending these text messages to deceive the victims. Instances of smishing have particularly increased multifold due to internet and smartphones reaching even the world’s remotest corners.

Smishing attackers use social engineering techniques to deceive message recipients into revealing private and financial information. For example, during the holiday season, you could receive a text message from a seemingly well-known retailer asking you to verify your billing information to get your gift package delivered. The information you provide could then be used for identity theft or potential fraud.

SMS phishers could also distribute spyware or malware through these fraudulent text messages. These messages typically create a sense of urgency for the recipient to click on the link attached to the message. This link then leads to unsafe or bogus websites that can install malware on your device.

Some of the common smishing attacks you need to watch out for are:

  • Urgent messages about your financial information, including credit card or bank account details
  • Notifications about winning prizes or lotteries
  • Fraudulent survey links
  • Phony messages pretending to be from trusted brands

Was the Spike in Smishing Circumstantial due to COVID-19?

Yes and no.

COVID-19, much like any other newsworthy event, gave cyber criminals an opportunity to hoodwink people across the globe. The widespread infection and death rate caused by coronavirus instilled fear in people, and they quickly fell prey to fraudulent messages about COVID-19.

Text (SMS) messages are a more direct and trusted method to contact people. According to Symantec, 1 in 20 COVID-19 related messages contained phishing attempts.

Attackers use URL shortening services to hide the domain names and URL destinations from the malicious links they add in SMS. Unsuspecting, vulnerable people in the coronavirus-struck world didn’t think twice before clicking on such links. Symantec also notes a spike in phishing attacks using COVID-19 related SMS messages after it was declared a global emergency by WHO in March 2020.

However, cybercrimes like SMS phishing do not appear or increase only during times of emergency crisis like the COVID-19 outbreak. With technological advancements and people becoming increasingly dependent on their smartphones and other devices, cybercrimes have been on the rise. Whether it’s a period of recession, war-like state, holidays, cybercriminals leave no stone unturned in deceiving digital users.

It seems like cybercriminals are always two steps ahead. Even with cybersecurity updates and robust software to detect and report cybersecurity risks, cybercrimes have not subsided.

Now, with vaccines out in the market, criminals have found new vaccine-themed deception tactics. As always, technology is a double-edged sword. With the life-altering benefits come the security risks. One can only stay smart and alert to avoid these risks from causing damages.

How to Protect Yourself from Smishing?

Smishing attackers target unwitting victims who will be easy targets. You can easily avoid being a victim by being aware. Look for poor grammar or spelling mistakes in these messages. Also, malicious links included in SMS messages are often slightly altered to make them look legitimate. For example, amazon.com could be written as ama.zon.com. Having software like anti-spyware or anti-virus on your device is also a good idea.

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