There has been a sudden increase in coronavirus related email scams that seek to capitalize from the population's concern and uncertainty over COVID-19, so you have to remain as vigilant as possible.
Here is a list of some of the official recommendation on how to prevent yourself from becoming a victim to such email scams.
US: Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Don’t open unsolicited email from people you don’t know.
- Hover your mouse over links to see where they lead.
- Do not click links in email. If you think the address is correct, retype it in a browser window.
- Be wary of attachments in any email.
- Do not supply any personal information, especially passwords, to anyone via email.
UK: National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)
Cyber criminals are preying on fears of the coronavirus and sending 'phishing' emails that try and trick users into clicking on a bad link. Once clicked, the user is sent to a dodgy website which could download malware onto your computer, or steal passwords. The scams may claim to have a 'cure' for the virus, offer a financial reward, or be encouraging you to donate.
Like many phishing scams, these emails are preying on real-world concerns to try and trick people into doing the wrong thing. Please refer to our guidance on dealing with suspicious messages.
World Health Organization (WHO)
WHO is aware of suspicious email messages attempting to take advantage of the COVID-19 emergency. This fraudulent action is called phishing.
These “Phishing” emails appear to be from WHO, and will ask you to:
- give sensitive information, such as usernames or passwords
- click a malicious link
- open a malicious attachment.
Using this method, criminals can install malware or steal sensitive information.
How to prevent phishing:
- Verify the sender by checking their email address. Make sure the sender has an email address such as ‘email@example.com’ If there is anything other than ‘who.int’ after the ‘@’ symbol, this sender is not from WHO. For example, WHO does not send email from addresses ending in ‘@who.com’ , ‘@who.org’ or ‘@who-safety.org’.
- Check the link before you click. Make sure the link starts with ‘https://www.who.int’. Better still, navigate to the WHO website directly, by typing ‘https://www.who.int’ into your browser.
- Be careful when providing personal information. Always consider why someone wants your information and if it is appropriate. There is no reason someone would need your username & password to access public information.
- Do not rush or feel under pressure. Cybercriminals use emergencies such as 2019-nCov to get people to make decisions quickly. Always take time to think about a request for your personal information, and whether the request is appropriate.
- If you gave sensitive information, don’t panic. If you believe you have given data such as your username or passwords to cybercriminals, immediately change your credentials on each site where you have used them.
- If you see a scam, report it. If you see a scam, tell us about it.
EU: European Union Agency For Cybersecurity (ENISA)
- Be very suspicious of mails from people you don't know- especially if they ask to connect to links or open files (if in doubt phone your security officer).
- Mails that create an image of urgency or severe consequences are key candidates for phishing - in these cases always verify via an external channel before complying.
- Mails sent from people you know, but asking for unusual things are also suspect - verify by phone if possible.
UK: Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
The FCA also warns of scams related to coronavirus (Covid-19). These scams take many forms and could be about insurance policies, pensions transfers, or high-return investment opportunities, including investments in cryptoassets.
Here is their advice on how to protect yourself from coronavirus related scams:
- Use the Financial Services Register and Warning List to check who you are dealing with.
- Reject offers that come out of the blue.
- Beware of adverts on social media channels and paid for/sponsored adverts online.
- Do not click links or open emails from senders you don't already know.
- Avoid being rushed or pressured into making a decision.
- If a firm calls you unexpectedly, use the contact details on the Register to check that you’re dealing with the genuine firm
- Do not give out personal details (bank details, address, existing insurance/pensions/investment details).
UK: National Health Service (NHS)
- Be suspicious of emails that ask you to check, renew or share your logins or passwords
- Don’t open attachments or click on links in emails without first establishing they are legitimate – for example, were you expecting to receive the email?
- Hover over links (without clicking) to see if the link looks legitimate – in many basic Phishing attempts, the actual link differs from the one you see in the email
- Check the source of the email – do you know the sender? Be wary if not, and try to verify the sender
- If the content of the email tries to persuade you to do something that seems too good to be true, it probably is
- If the email claims to be from an official source, it will likely have graphics and images. Do they look legitimate? An official source will never ask you to share personal details or login credentials
- Check for spelling and grammatical errors in emails – these are often a tell-tale sign of spam
- If in any doubt, contact your ICT team for advice.
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