Hackers Unleash COVID-19 Phishing Schemes to Snare Businesses


March 19, 2020

Are You Prepared For Sophisticated COVID-19 Phishing Scams? Knowing how to identify a suspicious COVID-19 scam can avoid a business network breach. But robust cybersecurity measures are needed to prevent the next scheme. While leading scientists and pharmaceutical companies work tirelessly to cure people stricken by COVID-19, hackers have been up all night finding ways to exploit the pandemic. Perhaps the most deplorable efforts to breach networks to date are the COVID-19 phishing schemes taking advantage of the public health crisis.

Experts at the National Cybersecurity Centre (NCSC) have identified numerous threats that prompt everyday people to open and email to learn seemingly life-saving information about the pandemic’s spread. But these tricks result in malware infiltrating personal devices and entire business networks.

“We know that cybercriminals are opportunistic and will look to exploit people’s fears, and this has undoubtedly been the case with the coronavirus outbreak,” NCSC director of operations Paul Chichester reportedly said. “Our advice to the public is to follow our guidance, which includes everything from password advice to spotting suspect emails.”

COVID-19 Phishing Schemes

What Businesses Need to Know COVID-19 Phishing Schemes

Phishing has evolved into a primary hacker tool because a smartly contrived scam delivers cybercriminals with all the information that they require to penetrate your device and professional network. Although this scam primarily leverages email, there are also incidents of fraudsters flooding social media as well. The scam artists attempt to get unsuspecting people to hand over passwords, login information, credit cards, and bank account numbers if possible.

You may receive an email that offers quick delivery of a COVID-19 testing kit or urgent updates from what appears to be a legitimate health organization. Many of these emails direct people to phony coronavirus-themed websites. Once you provide the target information, hackers can begin to breach your device, data, and potentially business systems. An alternative method that high-level hackers employ involves ransomware that encrypts files until the victim pays a set amount, usually in bitcoin.

Digital grifters have also contrived phishing schemes that are commonly referred to as the “long con” in flimflam circles. This strategy involves cybercriminals using phony social media profiles, and emails to develop trust with the target, namely you. Once a level of trust has been established, victims frequently provide valuable and sometimes confidential information.

It’s been nose to the grindstone for hackers since the pandemic broke, and phishing schemes have been propagated in hard-hit areas where people are afraid for themselves and their loved ones. That’s why it’s essential to remain vigilant about suspicious emails and other forms of online communication.

How To Recognize Phishing Scams

It may seem utterly unconscionable, but digital bandits are posting online advertisements claiming to have a cure for coronavirus. Click an ad like that or a link in a coronavirus email, and malware will promptly infect your device. Other attempts may not be so overt, but there are usually telltale signs that a message looks suspect. These are common ways to identify phishing schemes.

  • Poor Grammar: Many phishing emails originate from other countries to avoid prosecution. The messages may not be written in their first language. Look for spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Check The Name: Scams usually do not know your name when making contact. If it says something like “concerned resident” or “friend,” delete it. Generalized greetings are a top warning sign.
  • Suspicious Email or Link: If you are unfamiliar with the sender’s email or you hover the mouse over the link, and that too is foreign, that should be enough to disregard and delete.
  • Call To Action: When an email asks you to carry out a task or provide information, do not proceed.

If something in the COVID-19 email sounds like it is too good to be true, consider it a phishing scheme.

Next Steps for Victims of Phishing Schemes

First of all, do not be embarrassed if you fall for these highly skilled con artists. A phishing scheme ensnared government agencies, huge corporations, and at least one major political party. That being said, these are proactive measures you can take to mitigate any damage.

  • Change All Your Passwords
  • Contact Credit Bureaus
  • Call Credit Card Companies
  • Call Your Bank
  • Monitor All Accounts

Once you have contacted the relevant parties and secured your financial portfolio, contact a cybersecurity specialist to analyze your devices and business system to ensure that hackers cannot hurt you again.

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