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SALT LAKE CITY – Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions will be voting by mail for the first time in the 2020 election, and results may come slowly. Bad guys know Utahns are going to go hunting for information and they're ready to pounce.
With less than a month until election day, the FBI is sounding the alarm: be careful hunting for election information online.
"Spoofed domains and email accounts are leveraged by foreign actors and cybercriminals and can be easily mistaken for legitimate websites or emails," FBI officials said.
Beyond spreading false information, the FBI said the crooks are duping people into downloading malware or handing over their personal usernames, passwords and email addresses.
"At this point, I think none of us should be surprised by that," said Randy Pargman, senior director of threat hunting for Binary Defense. "That's just something that we should expect."
Pargman said that while bad guys doing bad things is nothing new, expect it to be worse this year with many people voting by mail for the first time, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Be a little bit skeptical of things that we see on social media from somebody we've never heard of before, or retweet or forward something that just seems a little bit off," he said.
That advice applies before and after the election. There is a reasonable chance we won't know which candidates won on election night so be wary where you go hunting for updates.
"We should just be careful about where we're getting our information from," Pargman said.
To avoid becoming a victim:
- Don't click on links in emails — and don't open email attachments.
- If you end up on a website that wants you to create a username and password, make sure you're not using the same password for everything.
- Some legitimate news organizations now hide articles behind a paywall but be wary of any website that asks for your credit card number. If it's a crook's website, you just gave him or her your credit card information.