The world, as we know it, has changed drastically over the last few weeks, owing to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. It has brought out the very best in humanity in many ways, but unfortunately it has created an opportunity for internet focused fraudsters and hackers to use it as an opportuniety to exploit the vulnerability of unexpecting people worldwide, and carry out scams such as cyber phishing.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is an attempt by hackers and scam artists to obtain sensitive information such as your credit card details or the login credentials (passwords and usernames) that you use (typically same username and password for multiple websites). The will take the username and password you use on one account type and then try to use the same access details on other platforms to see if they can gain access. The scam typically occurs through email, phone call (Vishing), text message (Smshing) or fake website (Domain Spoofing). Although phishing and other such attacks have been happening for some time, many are now using the current situation to increasingly fool more and more unsuspecting users.
Coronavirus Phishing Emails
Cybercriminals leverage people’s fear and need for information to steal sensitive data or spread malware onto their computers. Malware is software that is specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorised access to a computer system.
Coronavirus phishing emails can take a variety of forms including:
- Health advice emails – Phishers offer medical advice to help protect against the COVID-19 pandemic. The email may claim to be from a medical expert near Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the outbreak.
- Workplace policy emails – In these emails, phishers target employees’ office email accounts with fake company policies or forms to complete with personal information. When you click on the attachment, you may end up downloading malicious software (Malware).
- WHO emails – Intruders may pose as WHO (World Health Organisation) advisors offering advice in embedded links and attachments or asking for donations to a disaster relief fund.