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Google reports spike in phishing scams

Posted on April 21, 2020

 

Google has reported that scammers have been sending more than 18 million hoax emails to Gmail users about the coronavirus pandemic on a daily basis.

The tech company has said the current global situation has led to a spike in phishing attacks as criminals attempt to trick users into handing out their personal data. Google highlighted that it was blocking over 100 million of these types of emails each day.

Over the last week, it reports that almost a fifth of all phishing emails were related to Covid-19. Furthermore, the company believes that the virus may now be the biggest ever phishing topic.

Gmail is used regularly by 1.5 billion people worldwide and individuals are being set a variety of emails which impersonates health authorities such as the WHO (World Health Organization) in a bid to persuade people to download certain pieces of software or to donate money to false causes.

As well as charitable and health organisations, scammers are attempting to capitalise on the vulnerable by impersonating public institutions such as local councils and using government support packages as bait.

This growth in coronavirus-related phishing scams has been recorded by a number of cyber-security firms. One company, Barracuda Networks, has explained that it has seen a rise of 667% in scam emails during the pandemic.

The company has said that scammers have been sending fake text messages and emails claiming to be from the government, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and other official bodies and individuals, including US President Donald Trump.

As well as phony emails and texts, researchers have found a number of malicious smartphone apps and websites that are based on genuine resources relating to the coronavirus outbreak. One such app claims to help track the spread of the virus but instead infects the phone with a ransomware programme, with the hacker then demanding payment for restoring the device.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a topic with a high emotional charge at present and people need to make sure they are visiting genuine resources through their devices. It is advised to only open and respond to messages from known recipients and to not divulge in personal data.

Engage Web can assist genuine businesses in becoming more visible within Google and other search engines and help to reach customers in these tricky circumstances.

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