Cyber criminals will seemingly utilize every opportunity to exploit the public and play upon current fears to the benefit of malicious actors. The most recent example of this has been observed with respect to the global spread of the Coronavirus.

What Happened?

A scarcity of information and public concern surrounding COVID-19 (commonly referred to as the Coronavirus) has led to a significant increase in attempted cyber-attacks and phishing for many organizations since the end of January 2020. Attackers have sent emails disguised as concerns about Coronavirus in creative ways, including posing as regional health-care facilities, business partners, and World Health Organization employees in an email to various companies with attached instructions regarding monitoring individuals for Coronavirus symptoms. Knowing that the public is gripped with fear (and in some cases, panic), hackers are capitalizing on human emotions to accelerate their cybercrimes.

How Can You Prepare?

Leaders of organizations should alert all employees of the growing likelihood for an attempted cyber-attack disguised as Coronavirus concern. Organizations should also make overall efforts to increase cyber safety, such as through the implementation of a data loss prevention system and increase the education efforts regarding cyber safety for all organization members and employees. For individuals, the key is to continue to stay vigilant, question suspicious e-mails, and when in doubt – do not open any attachments or click on any links. Rather, utilize well-known resources to obtain information about COVID-19, such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website, or local, state and national online resources.