In these uncertain times, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rely on our computers and mobile devices more than ever. With everyone staying at home to fight the virus, we are using the internet more for our shopping, work and communicating with friends and family. With this increase in online usage, comes an increase in cyber-crime.
At a time when our society and key workers are working to their limits, the cyber criminals of the world are also making sure they are working hard to try and trick the rest of us with these convincing scams.
These scammers are using “phishing” emails, social media and text messages to target businesses with genuine-looking communications. They use these methods to extract information such as bank card details, personal information and passwords.
Here are some of the type of emails to look out for:
This is a variation of a common phishing email that most would have seen. However, in these times, scammers know that individuals and businesses are looking to hold onto money where possible. This email plays on these vulnerabilities and encourages people to input all their financial and tax information.
Treasury Minister Mel Stride MP, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:
“HMRC only informs you about tax refunds through the post or through your pay via your employer. All emails, text messages, or voicemail messages saying you have a tax refund are a scam. Do not click on any links in these messages”
Hackers have been found to be misleading the population with misinformation on how the virus is behaving. This email is posed to come from some sort of leading health body and informs users that COVID-19 is now airborne or infecting people in a new way.
This approach is meant to create a sense of panic and fear for the recipient, who is then prompted to click on a link for more advice. This link then takes you to a fake Microsoft login page where details are to be entered.
With these emails seeming to come from a trusted source, one way to combat such a scam is to have two-factor authentication enabled, so that you have to enter a code texted or otherwise provided to you, to access your email account.
Again, these emails are posed to come from a reliable source and seem like a genuine email with a convincing address, signature and format.
However obvious of an approach this may seem from the fraudsters out there, this has proved to be a lucrative method. Cyber-Security firm, Kaspersky, have detected more than 500 different files with “Corona Virus” in the email title… and they all contain malware.
Kaspersky have advised that as the virus continues to spread worldwide, these number are expected to increase.
These are just some of the methods hackers are using. Leading cyber-security firm ProofPoint has said that they have found over 500,000 messages, 300,000 malicious URLs and 200,000 malicious attachments with COVID-19 type approaches. These spanned more than 140 campaigns, with numbers continuing to increase. There have been many variations of these emails and, because of the longevity of the campaigns being run by these scammers, it is obviously proving to be working.
Security company Trustwave have said that, “Cyber criminals, proving beyond doubt they are completely devoid of morals, have ramped up their activities, unashamedly using all manner of coronavirus lures to trick people.”
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