PSA: Police warn of coronavirus scams as FBI says cybercrime up fourfold

Police, consumer organizations and Internet security companies are warning about an increasing number of coronavirus scams, as the FBI says cybercrime reports are up 400% …

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One scam is a text message claiming you’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

This one could easily fool people, as it mimics alerts sent out by contact tracing apps. Although these apps are in use in relatively few countries at present, they are getting a lot of coverage in the news – making it easy for a non-technical person to think this is a legitimate alert.

The specific site shown in the photo above (via WJLA) has been shut down, but there are likely to be many others, linking either to malware or a phishing scam asking you to login with Apple, Google, Facebook or similar.

ABC13 News reports a variation on this, specifically targeting seniors.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says seniors are now being targeted by scammers who want to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seniors are reporting to the BBB about receiving text messages from scammers posing as the U.S. Department of Health, and telling them they need to take a mandatory online COVID-19 test in order to receive the recently approved government stimulus payment.

They say other seniors report receiving emails stating they qualify for a payment and to click on a link to claim a check.

The BBB has a webpage with details of coronavirus scams.

TNW reports that literally hundreds of known or suspected scam websites have been created with coronavirus-related domain names.

According to a study by cybersecurity company Check Point, attackers are targeting people through stimulus-themed websites and emails for stealing data and money […]

From the beginning of the last month, 4,305 stimulus-related domains have been registered. Out of those, 56 were malicious and 656 were suspicious.

The Hill notes the FBI’s cybercrime division stating that both consumers and institutions working on coronavirus research are being targeted.

Tonya Ugoretz, the deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, said Thursday that the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) was receiving between 3,000 and 4,000 cybersecurity complaints each day, a major jump from prior to the COVID-19 pandemic when about 1,000 complaints were received daily […]

Cybersecurity companies have reported huge increases in hacking attempts since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, particularly in malicious emails that highlight coronavirus in order to trick an individual into clicking on a dangerous link […]

Ugoretz said many of the hackers are from nation states that have a “desire to gain insight” into COVID-19-related research, and that the “rapid shift to telework” has opened up a huge amount of cyber vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit.

“Countries have a very high interest in information on the virus … such as information on a vaccine,” Ugoretz said. “We have certainly seen reconnaissance activity and some intrusions into some of those institutions, especially those who have identified themselves as working on COVID research.”

As always, never click on a link claiming to be from an official source unless you are certain the email is genuine. Best practice is to access websites from your own bookmarks or by typing the URL.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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