Here we are just over a month into the emergency response measures dictated by the current Coronavirus crisis and unfortunately the end is not in sight yet. While absolutely no one is pleased about all of this, the majority understand that’s what’s being done is necessary. The worst part of it is the economic slowdown that’s coming with this, and for many people it’s really affecting the way in which gainful employment supports life.
Almost everyone has a connection to the digital world these days, whether you’re working in it directly or not. And it’s not almost everyone who makes use of email for a large majority of communications, it’s everyone. Unfortunately, every time there’s a large-scale calamity of the sort that we’re experience with COVID-19 there’s going to be some who see it as opportunity to fraudulently take advantage of others. That’s why we’re seeing so many coronavirus email scams going on these days.
We’d like to think that one of the ways 4GoodHosting has established ourselves as a reputable Canadian web hosting provider is the way we’re always keen to share what’s most valuable from what we gather by keeping on to of current events in the digital world. The fact that so many scam emails related to the Coronavirus are out and about now definitely meets the criteria for this stuff, so that’s what we’re going to look.
Google Blocking 18 Million of Them – A Day!
To gauge the full extent of the problem, look no further than the fact that Google has revealed that on each day over the past week, its Gmail-linked computer systems detected and then blocked 18 million malware and phishing emails related to the coronavirus. That’s a mammoth number, and really speaks to magnitude of the issue and the way it’s a far-reaching threat.
Interesting to note that Google has also blocked more than than 240 million daily spam messages linked to the virus. And well they should be able to given the resources they have at their disposal; Google’s machine-learning systems have become so effective at detecting the online threats that it manages to block 99.9% of spam, phishing, and malware from reaching anyone’s Gmail inbox.
As you might expect, these phishing attacks and scams are being used to stoke fear and push financial incentives to create urgency to try to prompt users to respond. Some of what’s being seen are individuals impersonating high-profile bodies like the World Health Organization, and the perp sending emails to try to solicit fraudulent donations.
The aim may also be to distribute malware which could give remote access to the victim’s computer or mobile device if downloaded.
What Can You Do?
Be suspicious of unsolicited emails
Unsolicited emails that prompt you to click on an attachment should raise a red flag at the best of times, and even more so now. Given that so much is going on at the federal level to provide financial relief to Canadians affected by the lockdown measures, any type of unsolicited communication related to the provision or management of finances should be treated with the right amount of precautions.
One thing that’s going to be very important here is to ensure that you don’t have any feature working with your email client that prompts the automatic opening of any attachments sent with the email.
Be Wary of Mobile Malware
A lot of people will be keeping tabs on the coronavirus and local measures related to it via an app. That’s perfectly normal these days, and no one will suggest you shouldn’t use them. However, you need to be cautious here too.
Down in the States, a research study has found that there are currently 16 apps that are maliciously trying to pose as legitimate coronavirus-related apps in a bid to steal users’ sensitive data or generate fraudulent revenues from freemium services.
The best advice here is to only use apps you’ve obtained through the App Store or Google Play. The chances of them being fraudulently-oriented are much less.
Determine Legitimacy of Sources
You should also be wary of social media or other sources where you obtain information regarding the Pandemic. It’s not that referencing these sources puts you directly at risk of malware or malicious email content, but it does increase the risk that you’ll be targeted by them.
For example, there’s many random Facebook groups offering supposed home cures for COVID-19 and long Twitter threads from self-appointed health experts and cleverly designed websites. Visiting them may mean you’re more at risk of receiving these fraud-aiming communications or suggestions for downloaded apps, etc.
Here’s a tip related to Facebook; click on the ”about” section of a Facebook group. You’ll then be able to see whether that group has changed its name multiple times to reflect new national crises — a sure sign that the group is trawling for an audience instead of promoting reliable news.
For Twitter, keep an eye on official sources, including the accounts of trusted news sites and their news reporters, and avoiding political operatives where possible.