Google has been actively fighting off scam emails related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the latest report says the tech giant is blocking around 100 million coronavirus scam emails per day. The coronavirus emails are phishing attacks launched by scammers to collect data such as personal information from unsuspecting individuals. After collecting the information, the information will be used to hack accounts or to steal identities to commit more fraud.
Explosion of Phishing Attacks
Criminals are getting more creative and can even send emails that may seem like regular emails from banks, government offices, and billing companies. The latest scam email trend is to use the coronavirus pandemic as the email’s header to get people to click on an email and provide the information the scammers are looking for in order to commit fraud. It is estimated that there could be hundreds of millions of scam emails per day and Google is able to filter or block 100 million per day to protect the 1.5 billion people who are users of Gmail service.
Impersonation of the World Health Organization
What is particularly alarming is how the phishing emails would impersonate authorities and health agencies. A huge number of such emails are impersonating the World Health Organization to persuade people to donate to bogus causes or to download malware. Some emails sent by the cyber criminals imitate government institutions to capitalize on government support packages.
The Fight Against Fraudulent Email
Google is currently using their machine learning tools to block coronavirus phishing emails and they’ve been successful at blocking more than 99.9% of the emails from reaching their users. With this said, the emails are still around and increased significantly. In fact, several cyber security companies are currently looking into this and report that they’ve seen a 667% increase in phishing emails since the pandemic started.
Exploitation of Legitimate Fears and Concerns
Fraudulent emails could be from anywhere. There are some that are pretending to be from the UK government, some from those who are pretending to be from the CDC or Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, some that claim to be from specific politicians or world leaders, and some that claim to be from the World Health Organization. A rule of thumb for ignoring such emails is that if you are not signed up for an email service from a specific sender, then it is unlikely that they would have your contact details to send you emails.
No matter how important an email sounds like, if it is asking you to provide personal information, to download something on your device, or to log-in at an app or a website that you haven’t heard of, simply report the email as fraud and do not open any links on it. Remember that cyber criminals are banking on confusion, fear, and other emotional responses to try to get people to do what they want when they are most vulnerable.
Have you provided your information to a possible phishing email or downloaded a fake COVID-19 tracker app? Contact us today and we may be able to assist you to protect yourself with the help of our private investigation services. Not only can we help you avoid phishing scams in the future, but we can look at your internet fraud vulnerability and provide you with steps to protect yourself.