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Cyber-criminals Use COVID-19 Crisis to Spread Phishing Emails

Cybersecurity Trends By Mitiget

Coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, continues to generate headlines around the world due to its public health crisis.  Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed on 28th February, 2020, that as of 6am Geneva time, China had reported a total of 78,959 cases of COVID-19 to WHO, including 2791 deaths. Outside China, there were 4351 cases in 49 countries, and 67 deaths. All hands are on deck to surmount the menace.

Coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in the nose, sinuses, or upper throat. In early 2020, after a December 2019 outbreak in China, the WHO identified a new type, 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which can be fatal. The organization named the disease it causes COVID-19.

As a result of the public health crisis the virus has generated, cyber-criminals are cashing in to spread phishing emails and create malicious domains for a variety of fraud. The most recent Example comes from the WHO, which warned in February 2020 that fraudsters have started to use its name and images as part of phishing attacks and other scams. “If you are contacted by a person or organization that appears to be from WHO, verify their authenticity before responding,” according to a warning posted on The WHO website. “WHO is aware of suspicious email messages attempting to take advantage of the 2019 novel coronavirus emergency.” The warning from WHO confirms earlier reports from security firms such as Sophos that scammers were attempting to use images, graphics, and realistic-looking domains as part of various phishing and others malicious campaigns. In addition to spoofing WHO, researchers say fraudsters are also spoofing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Check Point also published a report about a spike in the number of domains being registered related to coronavirus. “An example of such a website is,… registered in Russia. The website is insecure and offers to sell ‘the best and fastest test for Coronavirus detection at the fantastic price of 19,000 Russian rubles (about US $300).”

“Many of these domains will probably be used for phishing attempts,” the report adds.

Meanwhile, other cybercriminals are sending out phishing emails about the coronavirus to the global shipping industry to entice victims to open an attached Microsoft Word document that installs the AZORult information stealer, Proof-point researchers report.



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