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Google Helping Pakistanis Avoid COVID-19 Online Security Risks

Press Release

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As people around the world are staying at home due to COVID-19, many are
turning to new apps and communications tools to work, learn, access information, and stay connected with loved ones.

While these digital platforms are helpful in our daily lives, they can also introduce new online
security risks. Google’s Threat Analysis Group continually monitors for sophisticated, hacking
activity and is seeing new COVID-19 messaging used in attacks, and our security systems have
detected a range of new scams such as phishing emails posing as messages from charities and
NGOs battling COVID-19, directions from “administrators” to employees working from home,
and even notices spoofing healthcare providers.

Google’s systems have also spotted malware-laden sites that pose as sign-in pages for popular
social media accounts, health organizations, and even official coronavirus maps. During the
past few weeks, our advanced, machine-learning classifiers have seen 18 million daily malware
and phishing attempts related to COVID-19, in addition to more than 240 million COVID-related
spam messages.

To protect people from these risks, we built advanced security protections into Google
products to automatically identify and stop threats before they ever reach you. Our machine
learning models in Gmail already detect and block more than 99.9 percent of spam, phishing
and malware.

Our built-in security also protects you by alerting you before you enter fraudulent
websites, scanning apps in Google Play before you download, and more. But we want to help
you stay secure everywhere online, not just on our products, so we’re providing these simple
tips, tools and resources for you.

How to spot and avoid scams

With many of the COVID-19 related scams coming in the form of phishing emails, it’s important
to pause and evaluate any COVID-19 email before clicking any links or taking other action. Be
wary of requests for personal information such as your home address or bank details. Fake links
often imitate established websites by adding extra words or letters to them—check the URL’s
validity by hovering over it (on desktop) or with a long press (on mobile).

1. Know how scammers may reach you – scammers are taking advantage of the increase
in COVID‑19 communications by disguising their scams as legitimate messages about the virus. Alongside emails, scammers may also use text messages, automated calls
and malicious websites to reach you.

2. Visit authoritative websites directly. Scammers often pose as well-known, trusted and
authoritative sources. Directly visit sources like covid.gov.pk to get the latest factual
information about COVID‑19.

3. Be cautious of requests for personal or financial information. If you receive an unsolicited
request for personal or financial information, take extra time to evaluate the message.
Scammers will often ask you to input login information, or share bank details and
addresses with them. They may also request payment via bank transfer or virtual
currency.

4. Donate directly through nonprofit organizations. Some scams take advantage of
goodwill, requesting donations for COVID‑19 relief efforts. Do some research to make
sure the nonprofit is legitimate. Scammers can also pose as legitimate nonprofits. To be more confident your money will reach a nonprofit, you can donate directly through their
website ─ rather than clicking a link sent to you.

5. Double check links and email addresses before clicking, Fake links often imitate
established websites by adding extra words or letters. If it says something like " clickd
here," hover over the link or long press the text to check the URL for mistakes ─ being
careful not to click it. Misspelled words or random letters and numbers in the URL or
email address may also indicate a scam.

6. Search to see if it’s been reported. If somebody has sent you a fraudulent message, it’s
likely they’ve sent it to other people as well. Copy and paste the email address, phone
number, or most suspicious portion of the message into a search engine to check if it’s
been reported by others.

7. Add an extra layer of security to your account. For extra protection online, add two-factor
authentication — also known as 2-step verification — to your accounts. This provides
another layer of security by requiring two steps to gain access to your account: for
example, something you know (your password) and something you physically have on
hand (like your phone or a security key).— PRESS RELEASE

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