I first started telling you about coronavirus phishing scams on February 8th. Today, I am warning you again because scammers have dramatically increased the number of phishing scams using the Coronavirus as a hook to lure people into providing personal information or clicking on links and downloading dangerous malware. Most phishing emails try to create a sense of emergency to entice you into quickly and without thinking provide information or click on links. Concerns about the Coronavirus are easily exploited by scammers who trick people to throw caution to the wind and become victims of their phishing scam.
According to the security company GreatHorn, one of the more common Coronavirus related phishing emails comes with the subject line that reads “Mandatory Covid-19 Assessment for Employees.” Victims of this phishing email, believing it is from the company for which they work, click on the link and provide personal information that is used for purposes of identity theft.
The security company ProofPoint identified a number of other Coronavirus related phishing emails that were used to lure people into downloading dangerous ransomware malware. These have been coming with subject lines including “Your COVID-19 results are ready / 85108,” “Your COVID-19 results are ready / 85513,” Your COVID_9 results #99846,” “View Your COVID19 result #99803” and “COVID19 virus analysis #83273.
Phishing emails are a leading cause of many scams and even major data breaches. It is relatively easy to craft a legitimate appearing email that can use a variety or pretenses to trick people into clicking on links or downloading attachments. Anytime you get an unsolicited email that asks for personal information, instructs you to click on a link or download an attachment you should be wary. Remember my motto, trust me, you can’t trust anyone. Never provide personal information, click on a link or download an attachment unless you have absolutely confirmed that the email is legitimate. You can hover over a link with your mouse and determine where the link will take you. Often this can help you learn that the link is part of a phishing scam, but regardless the best course of action is to never click on a link unless you have absolutely confirmed that the it is legitimate.
You should also make sure that your phone, computer and any other devices you may have are protected by security software and update your security software with the latest security patches as soon as they become available. It is important to remember, however, that the most up to date security software will always be at least thirty days behind the latest strains of malware so you cannot depend on your security software to be 100% effective.
For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.” Scamicide.com was recently cited by the New York Times as one of three best sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.