The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in the UK
launched a suspicious email reporting service (SERS) to the public, and the
results were immediate: more than 80 web campaigns were shut down after just
Cybercriminals are opportunistic, which means they’ll use
any situation to create an advantage. And it’s impossible to find a more obvious
avenue for criminals to exploit than the current COVID-19 epidemic.
A wave of phishing campaigns sprouted out of nowhere,
promising cures, tricking people into donating money to fake causes, and
spreading malware in malicious attachments. The growth of the phenomenon forced
the authorities to take action, and the NCSC launched a new Cyber Aware
campaign, asking the public for help.
In a single day, more than 5,000 suspicious emails were
flagged and reported, which resulted in 83 online scams being terminated. As
more and more people become aware of the service, the number of phishing
campaigns taking advantage of the epidemic should fall considerably.
“The immediate take-up of our new national reporting
service shows that the UK is united in its defence against callous attempts to
trick people online,” said
NCSC Chief Executive Officer Ciaran Martin. “While we have not seen a rise in
email scams in the last month, coronavirus is the top lure currently used to
conduct cybercrime, exploiting public unease and fear of the pandemic.”
Users only have to forward the suspicious emails,
including the ones claiming to offer support related to coronavirus, to
email@example.com, and the validity of the emails and websites is tested
Bitdefender’s own telemetry showed a drastic increase in
March, with the number of COVID-19-themed phishing emails rising fivefold since
February. But, with the help of the public and a little user awareness, those
numbers could drop sharply.
As always, users should never open emails or attachments
coming from people they don’t know. Keep in mind that official information
about possible cures, donations, or medication for COVID-19 is not sent through
emails by health authorities.