Written by: Jay H.
Amongst the chaos created by the coronavirus, scammers are scheming ways to capitalize on peoples’ fears. According to security firm Barracuda Networks, the amount of coronavirus-related email phishing attacks has steadily increased since January. Also, there has been an unprecedented spike since the end of February, with a 667 percent increase in coronavirus email phishing.
From March 1 to 23, there were 467,825 spear-phishing email attacks detected. 9,116 (2%) of those incidents were related to COVID-19. Compared to January and February, which only had 137 and 1,188 coronavirus-related email attacks respectively, this is a major increase.
“Although the overall number of these attacks is still low compared to other threats, the threat is growing quickly,” Barracuda said in a statement.
Coronavirus Phishing Scams Rundown
Phishing campaigns distribute malware, steal credentials, and scam users out of money. Three main methods accomplish this: scamming, brand impersonation, and business email compromise. Of the attacks detected through March 23, 54 percent were scams, 34 percent were brand impersonation attacks, 11 percent were blackmail, and 1 percent were business email compromise.
Avoid Falling Victim to Phishing Scams
The increase of coronavirus phishing scams threatens everyone. Protect yourself with the following methods advised by Barracuda:
- Don’t trust messages that look like they’re from a company you currently do business with, which say that your account has had suspicious activity, needs an updated credit card number, or has had unauthorized login attempts. Although this all may be true, if the email wants you to log-in using a website within the email, you are likely being scammed.
- Check the email address field for fake addresses. Also, check the salutation (if there is one) for “Dear user” or “Dear [your email address]. Real businesses either skip the salutation or use your first and last name or business name.
- Poor spelling and grammar are a dead giveaway. Many of the scammers originate from non-English speaking countries.
- Be wary of emails attempting to get you to open attachments or click links. Hover over the link and ensure that it is a legitimate address that matches the company sending the email. If you are unsure, contact the company through a normal route.
- Donate to credible charities directly. Coronavirus-related scams often ask for donations to help those affected by the pandemic. To avoid falling victim to a scam, research credible charities and donate directly through their websites instead.
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