A new threat has risen regarding coronavirus – COVID-19 linked to the overwhelming volume of breaking news. Phishing attacks are not new they have been around for a while, they look to exploit any fears that are popular, in this case coronavirus.
How it works is quite simple, cybercriminals send emails with coronavirus information that appear to be from legitimate sources such as World Health Organization or WHO.
The email messages might ask you to open an attachment to see the latest statistics. If you click on the attachment or embedded link, you’re likely to download malicious software onto your device.
The malicious software — malware, for short — could allow cybercriminals to take control of your computer, log your keystrokes, or access your personal information and financial data, which could lead to identity theft.
The coronavirus — or COVID-19, the name of the respiratory disease it causes — has affected the lives of millions of people around the world. It’s impossible to predict its long-term impact. But it is possible to take steps to help protect yourself against coronavirus-related scams.
Tips for recognizing and avoiding phishing emails
Here are some ways to recognize and avoid coronavirus-themed phishing emails.
Like other types of phishing emails, the email messages usually try to lure you into clicking on a link or providing personal information that can be used to commit fraud or identity theft. Here’s some tips to avoid getting tricked.
- Beware of online requests for personal information. A coronavirus-themed email that seeks personal information like your Social Security number or login information is a phishing scam. Legitimate government agencies won’t ask for that information. Never respond to the email with your personal data.
- Check the email address or link. You can inspect a link by hovering your mouse button over the URL to see where it leads. Sometimes, it’s obvious the web address is not legitimate. But keep in mind phishers can create links that closely resemble legitimate addresses. Delete the email.
- Watch for spelling and grammatical mistakes. If an email includes spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors, it’s likely a sign you’ve received a phishing email. Delete it.
- Look for generic greetings. Phishing emails are unlikely to use your name. Greetings like “Dear sir or madam” signal an email is not legitimate.
- Avoid emails that insist you act now. Phishing emails often try to create a sense of urgency or demand immediate action. The goal is to get you to click on a link and provide personal information — right now. Instead, delete the message.
Where can I find legitimate information about the coronavirus?
It’s smart to go directly to reliable sources for information about the coronavirus. That includes government offices and health care agencies.
Here are a few of the best places to find answers to your questions about the coronavirus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC website includes the most current information about the coronavirus. Here’s a partial list of topics covered.
- How the coronavirus spreads
- Prevention and treatment
- Cases in the U.S.
- Global locations with COVID-19
- Information for communities, schools, and businesses
World Health Organization. WHO provides a range of information, including how to protect yourself, travel advice, and answers to common questions.