The coronavirus, classified by the World Health Organization as a global health emergency, has sparked fear across the world – and cybercriminals have already begun to exploit uncertainty around the outbreak. Online scammers disguised as virologists have disseminated phishing emails containing malicious links and PDFs that claim to have advice on protective safety measures.
Uncertainty surrounding the virus plays into the hands of bad actors. More people are likely to fall for phishing scams given their curiosity to learn more about the matter. People must be extra-vigilant for suspicious activity: is the email poorly written? Does the email address look genuine? Is there a suspicious attachment or link? If it looks suspicious, better to err on the side of caution and delete the email.
The success rate of seasonally themed phishing emails pales in comparison, though, to those pegged to a critical world event. People living through Brexit uncertainty or a natural disaster have disproportionate questions and concerns. Attackers can exploit those fears and doubts by suggesting they have answers.