Written by Nicole Sigrist
It’s interesting how crises have a way of making every one of us take stock of what is most important. In the last few months, COVID-19 has upended countless lives across the globe. Perhaps more so than usual, we are finding a renewed appreciation for our health as well as that of our loved ones. We may realise that we’ve taken for granted our generous healthcare system, as well as the thousands of medical professionals currently working day and night on the frontlines of this pandemic. At a time like this, the value of good and reliable information also becomes exceptionally clear.
When there is a crisis, there is uncertainty; and where there is uncertainty, people yearn for information. Anything to provide us with answers. Indeed, according to Censuswide, there has been a spike in interest among the British population to read the news, with almost half (48%) admitting that they are reading publications more than they typically do. As many as 77% of respondents claimed that their reason for doing so is to stay up-to-date with the coronavirus situation. Additionally, over a third (34%) wanted more information about the virus and its spread.
Unfortunately, crises also breeds fear and panic. As individuals frantically seek answers, they are less likely to take the extra time to cross-check their news source or find balanced arguments. Having recently entered into the era of ‘fake news’, the truth is already hard to decipher. Add to that a terrifying new virus, and we have chaos. It is within this chaos that bad actors flourish, preying on our fears and relying on us to gullibly click that link or download that file with details to a not-yet-existing vaccine. In the span of a few weeks, emails impersonating authorities such as the World Health Organisation have been dispersed, offering advice through a word document that surreptitiously downloads malware on your device. More recently, malware has come in the form of a “you are infected” notification from the doctor at your local hospital and a malicious attachment. In other instances, bogus advertisements for masks and medical equipment have attempted to scam the public for money. The efforts of cybercriminals are persistent and their tactics, boundless.
As a cybersecurity PR company, it is important now, more than ever, that we work alongside the wealth of experts we are in touch with to filter out both misinformation and disinformation. We have the power to cut through the chaos and counsel individuals out of falling for a scam, which risks exacerbating an already stressful situation. There is no doubt that we take this responsibility seriously.