Reliable, Proactive & Secure IT Support

COVID-19 Themed Phishing Emails

Phishing Email
Cyber Security / Tips

COVID-19 Themed Phishing Emails

It looks like COVID-19 is here to stay for the foreseeable future, which means that unfortunately, the public are becoming increasingly vulnerable to phishing scams associated with the crisis.  In this post we look at COVID-19 Themed Phishing Emails – what are they, how to spot them and what to do about them. 

Google have announced that in the last week alone, an average of 18 million COVID-19 phishing emails were sent per day via Gmail, despite their use of a sophisticated malware scanner. Plus, the rapid spate of COVID-19 scams was flagged by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) earlier this month. 

But why are such emails dangerous? 

If not dealt with in an effective manner, phishing emails can lead to theft of your personal information, passwords, identities, and sensitive company information. Plus, they have the ability to download ransomware software to your computer or laptop that obtains private documents and holds them hostage for money – i.e. blackmail you.

It’s likely that your inbox will be full of emails from businesses updating you on their social distancing policy and other measures that they’ve put in place in order to combat COVID-19.  While the majority of these will be legitimate, it’s highly probable that phishing scams will infiltrate your inbox during this time too.

What to look out for

COVID-19 themed phishing emails can take different forms, including:

Emails posing to be from the World Health Organisation, falsely claiming information on the number of virus cases in your area

Health advice emails, claiming to be from medical experts in China, advising you to click on a link for more information on health measures

Updated workplace policy emails, claiming to hold information on update policies to accommodate COVID-19

How to avoid scammers

The majority of phishing emails will try to encourage you to click on a link or provide personal information that will be used to commit fraud.  To avoid this happening, we advise the following:

Beware of emails that request personal information.  Never respond to these.

If you suspect that an email may be from a scammer, always check the ‘from’ email address. Often, it’s obvious that the email isn’t from who it should be.  

Watch out for spelling.  If an email includes multiple spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors, it’s likely to be a phishing one.  

If an email is telling you to act now, it’s also likely to be a scam.  Phishing emails will often encourage you to do something immediately – don’t.  Instead, delete the email.

Watch out for a generic greeting.  It’s unlikely a scammer will have your personal details, so may address you with ‘dear sir or madam’.  

We hope that you have found this ‘COVID-19 Themed Phishing Emails’ article useful.  If you need any IT Support during this difficult time, we’re here.  Contact a member of the team today.