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Hackers creating scam sites similar to COVID-19 relief packages

These scam websites use the news of the coronavirus financial incentives, and fears about coronavirus to try and trick people into using the websites or clicking on links.

  • Published: April 20, 2020 7:27 PM IST
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With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down major parts of the global economy, governments are responding with massive stimulus packages aimed at supporting businesses and individuals. And not surprisingly, cyber-attackers are busy using scam and phishing techniques to get their share, security researchers warned on Monday. Also Read - Google starts listing COVID-19 testing centers in search results

These scam websites use the news of the coronavirus financial incentives, and fears about coronavirus to try and trick people into using the websites or clicking on links, cybersecurity firm Check Point Software Technologies said in a blog. Users who visit these malicious domains instead of the official government websites risk having their personal information stolen and exposed, or payment theft and fraud. Also Read - Samsung may launch affordable 5G phones to tackle COVID-19 financial losses

Check Point researchers have found that since January, a total of 4,305 domains relating to new stimulus/relief packages have been registered globally. In March 2020, a total of 2,081 new domains were registered -38 malicious and 583 suspicious. In the first week of April, 473 were registered – 18 malicious, 73 suspicious. Also Read - Google blocked 18 million COVID-19 scam emails, malware daily last week

“We’ve also seen a major increase in the week starting March 16 during which the American government proposed the stimulus package to taxpayers,” said the company. The number of new domains registered that week was 3.5 times higher compared to the average of previous weeks, it added. In the US alone, the federal government is rolling out a $2 trillion package of Economic Impact Payments to help give the economy a shot in the arm and prevent a crash.

Hackers and threat actors want to cash in on the rush to get these vital payments and fill their own pockets at the expense of others. Google recently reported that in just one week from 6 to 13 April, it saw more than 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to Covid-19 scams – and that’s in addition to the 240 million daily spam messages it sees related to coronavirus.

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Last week, Google reported that it blocked 18 million COVID-19 scam emails and malware per day in one week. This was in addition to more than 240 million coronavirus related daily spam messages, Google said in a blog post.

It also revealed that how these scammers are working overtime to target people working from home because of uncertain coronavirus pandemic. Google is proactively monitoring in place for COVID-19-related malware and phishing across their systems and workflows. As per company, these threats are not new in many cases, rather, they’re existing malware campaigns that have simply been updated to exploit situation related to COVID-19.

Written with agency inputs

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  • Published Date: April 20, 2020 7:27 PM IST