The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our daily lives and routines dramatically. However, it seems that hackers remain undaunted and are still up to their old tricks, as the number of coronavirus-themed scams and security incidents related to it has been increasing steadily since January. Hackers are preying on people's fears by spreading disinformation and monetizing panic.
"This may be the most-dangerous time to be online, and those least informed are in the greatest peril," says Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy specialist at NordVPN. "Hackers are exploiting very real fears about the coronavirus through fake emails and scam websites. People are giving up private information and downloading malware without a second thought."
Below are some of the most-common coronavirus scams and security incidents:
Emails from "health authorities." When COVID-19 was just ramping up, cybercriminals already were on it. Pretending to be health officials, they sent out emails with instructions on how to prevent coronavirus infection. These instructions, disguised as PDF, mp4, or docx files, contained malware, which harvested sensitive data or took over infected devices.
"Fake emails from WHO, CDC, and other health authorities have been circulating since January, containing malware or phishing scams instead of life-saving information," relates Markuson.
Fake coronavirus maps. The now-famous Johns Hopkins University map is a source of much-needed information that is accessible to all. Hackers used Johns Hopkins University data to create malware-ridden apps and spread them all over the web to unsuspecting users. This resulted in cybercriminals gaining access to people's phone cameras, microphones, and text messages.
An ecosystem of scam websites. Every day sees the launch of numerous fraudulent coronavirus...