Coronavirus Phishing and Hacking Scams on the Rise
As the novel coronavirus continues to spread around the globe, causing thousands to fall ill and hundreds of deaths thus far, people are anxious to learn more about the virus, what causes it, and how to protect themselves from it. Unfortunately this urgency to learn more has given cybercriminals a chance to exploit the fear by sending out a malicious form of software.
The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China and has since spread around the globe to more than 26 countries at last count. Stories of respiratory symptoms, cough, fever, pneumonia, kidney failure, and deaths have put many into a panic and on edge as to how to protect themselves. People are looking for more information in any form. This is what is making them vulnerable.
Coronavirus Phishing and Hacking
On Monday, February 3 of this year, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response warned that phishing attacks using the topic of the virus had been made via emails with attached Word documents. There were also PDF and MP4 file attachments which offered guidance on how to prevent the infection.
The spam emails have been identified in Japan and it is only a matter of time before they are seen globally. Specifically at risk are those who are in the healthcare industry. Online scammers have taken full advantage of the fear and uncertainty by sending out emails with alleged “new information” on the Wuhan coronavirus or tips to help with prevention.
IT experts have identified that hackers are using the coronavirus to send spam emails to people in the hopes of infecting smartphones, laptops, and computers with malicious software. The emails, which are disguised as legitimate emails about the virus, contain malware, when opened, allow the hacker to gain access to your personal files and copy them. The emails have urgent subject lines encouraging the viewer to open the email warning of a supposed new strain of coronavirus or safety measures regarding the spread of the illness.
Preventing the Phishing Scam
Like other online scams cybercriminals are counting on the public to be thirsty for information. We suggest using extreme caution when opening your emails especially if the sender is unknown or the sender would not normally forward an email of this nature. Here are a few more tips to avoid having this software infect your devices.
- Do not open questionable links or attachments that come to you by text or email. Do not answer suspect phone calls. Use secure passwords that are different on each of your devices, accounts, and data. Using two-factor authentication is also a good idea to further strengthen your data security.
- Run antivirus software on your phone, laptop and desktop. This will protect your computer from viruses and malware that may find its way into your system.
- Train your employees on current scams including identifying the potential of using the coronavirus as a ploy to gain access to your data.
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