BPI warns public on surge of Covid-19 electronic scams

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The Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) has warned the public on the rising number of cybercrime cases amid the Covid-19 global outbreak.

BPI noted a 50-percent increase worldwide in online scams, as cybercriminals tap into various digital platforms to capitalize on coronavirus fears by way of phishing scams and impersonating legitimate organizations, including banks.

“We see phishing emails that feature Covid-19 themes that have links to phishing sites. These scammers do take advantage of our dire situation and the emotions of people,” said BPI enterprise information security officer and data protection officer Jonathan John B. Paz.

In a span of 10 days — from March 17 to 26 — BPI already detected 24 Covid-themed phishing emails. “We have also seen 212 phishing websites in the same period and all these were taken down,” Paz added.

The bank advised its clients to take the necessary precautions to protect them from becoming the latest victims of coronavirus-related cybercrimes.

“As you enjoy the convenience of banking through our online channels, make sure that your every log-in is safe and secure,” explained Paz, adding that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, especially during these critical times.

To protect one’s bank account in the time of Covid-19, BPI encourages its customers to use the bank’s mobile and online security features to help keep their accounts safe. These include activation of one’s Mobile Key, enabling biometric login, linking a device to one’s account, using One-Time PIN (OTP), and setting up login notifications and email alerts, among others.

For its part, BPI said that they have taken both technical and non-technical measures to combat Covid-themed social engineering attacks.

“We ramped up collaboration with threat intelligence services to gather information on the emerging modus operandi, indicators of compromise, phishing websites and attacks, particularly Covid-19-themed cyberattacks, to improve the bank’s defenses and help us better secure our clients personal data and financial assets,” Paz said.

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