If you get an email about coronavirus “safety measures”, it’s probably a phishing scam

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Over the past few weeks the coronavirus has had a widespread effect, forcing many nations to tighten restrictions for people travelling from China, as well as resulting in the cancellation of MWC 2020 later this month.

Perhaps unsurprisingly cybercriminals are looking to take advantage of the situation and sending out phishing emails under the guise of advise with regards to the coronavirus.

This according to Sophos, with the IT security company identifying the new phishing scam recently.

“Sadly, cybercrooks love a crisis, because it gives them a believable reason to contact you with a phishing scam,” writes the firm’s Paul Ducklin.

Sophos also offered up a screenshot of what such a phishing scam email might look like, with it even featuring the official World Health Organisation (WHO) logo to add an extra layer of “authenticity”.

Ducklin points out that although the cybercriminals are using WHO to mask their intentions, the poor grammar evidenced in the email above serves as a good sign to known when the phishing scam has been sent your way.

Sophos also took the effort to see what happens when people click on the “safety measures” button embedded in the mail, which takes you to a fake version of the WHO site.

“Firstly, it seems to be a compromised music site with a weird name that doesn’t have any obvious connection to any well-known health organisation; secondly, it is an HTTP site, not an HTTPS site, which is sufficiently unusual these days to be suspicious in its own right,” the firm explains about the scam.

It adds that a pop-up will appear prompting users to enter their email address and a password. Once you click verify, the scammers redirect users to the proper WHO site, with those people who have just been scammed being none the wiser.

Precisely what kind of information these scammers are aiming to obtain is unclear, but as always Sophos advises that people never be pressured into clicking a link on an email, as this is a surefire sign of being a phishing scam.

To keep up to date with the coronavirus, as well as view vetted safety measures and tips, Google is working with the WHO to provide that vital information when you search for it online.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.