The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) is now working to combat the spread of disinformation, rumors and scams regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to a press release. It is doing this in collaboration with the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, New Jersey Regional Operations Intelligence Center and the New Jersey State Police.
“As we continue to aggressively fight (COVID-19) through strict social distancing, the spread of inaccurate information on the impact and response related to this crisis is also dangerous,” said Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), according to the release. “The only way to beat this pandemic is if each of our 9 million residents continues to follow social distancing measures, guidance from public health officials and by supporting each other. We must remain on course, and our administration is determined to keep everyone safe with reliable information.”
NJOHSP launched a rumor and disinformation webpage to update residents with new information when it becomes available, according to the release. This page includes details about scams that may affect New Jersey residents and cybersecurity alerts regarding potential threats to residents and businesses due to the pandemic.
“The sharing of disinformation is one of many tactics gaining traction by those seeking to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic, both across the United States and around the world,” said Jared M. Maples, director of the NJOHSP, according to the release. “These actions can be harmful and detract from the efforts of our frontline workers in healthcare and law enforcement. In partnership with our federal, state and local partners, my office is committed to increasing awareness of these practices with a convenient and routinely updated resource.”
The New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell, which is a division within the NJOHSP, reported that there has been an increase in the number of targeted cyber threats and attacks directed at healthcare institutions and multiple companies supporting work-from-home programs, according to the release. Residents are encouraged by the NJOHSP to use credible sources when obtaining information regarding COVID-19.