Covid-19 Contact Tracing Scams

As states open for business, their economies are expanding. Yet the Corona Virus is also seeing an uptick in activity. As hotspots develop in communities, contact tracing becomes critical to reduce the spread.

Unfortunately, scammers are exploiting the process. If you receive a call from a Covid-19 contact tracer, DO NOT give them your Social Security Number. Imposters are calling individuals as contact tracers and asking for personal information such as their Social Security number or other financial information. This is not relevant for contact tracing. Hang up the phone.

Contact Tracing is a data quagmire. Electronic tools are being used to manage this data collection. Many companies and countries are in a hurry to develop phone apps to assist in the data collection.

Kevin Coleman, Executive Director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, sees the challenge. “While the apps are designed to help scale human efforts to contact tracing, they’re also a double-edged sword when seen through the lens of individual privacy and security.”

Apps are being developed by many countries, China, South Korea, India, Australia, the U.K., Europe, including France and Germany.

The United States does not have a centralized effort. They have not agreed on policies and protocol that must be followed.

  • What data should be collected?
  • Where should data be stored?
  • Who should have access to the data?

However, Apple and Google teamed up to offer a software framework for app developers that would work with phones. They have a focus on security as well as health. This team chose a decentralized version of data collection. This gives the users more control over their information as it stays on their phone.

The data collection model Apple and Google are using is decentralized. They determined a centralized application provided a data rich target for hackers. Many countries changed their approach to their app development as a result of the work done by this team.

Some of the apps coming on the market contain ads and have questionable privacy policies.

Senator Maria Cantwell from Washington believes, “For an exposure notification system to be useful, enough people have to choose to adopt it. And people aren’t going to adopt it if their data isn’t secure.”

Electronic contact tracing is in its infancy. While companies are scrambling to provide a vaccine and treatment for Covid-19, they have policies and regulations to follow that provide the public some safety. I am not sure electronic contact tracing will be viable in this pandemic.

 

Information presented herein is for discussion and illustrative purposes only and is not a recommendation or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities.

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