US Law Enforcement Takes Down COVID-19-related Online Malicious Campaigns

The Department of Justice cooperated with several private
companies and internet domain providers and registrars to disrupt hundreds of
websites and malicious campaigns that tried to exploit the current COVID-19
pandemic.

Following a wave of complaints to the FBI’s Internet
Crime Complaint Center (IC3) related to COVID-19 scams, the law enforcement
agencies set up an operation to identify and shut down malicious campaigns.
Some of the scams targeted by law enforcement included fake vaccines and cures
and fraudulent charity drives, while other spam emails were delivering infected
attachments.

For example, following the announcement of a possible
stimulus package for the US economy, the Internet Revenue Service (IRS)
notified people about scammers copying the looks and functionality of the
official website. The goal of this phishing campaign is to trick people into
revealing private information.

“The FBI is proud to work alongside our federal law
enforcement and private sector partners to protect the American public from
COVID-19 related scams during these difficult times,” said
FBI Executive Assistant Director Terry Wade. “We believe our collaborative
efforts are the key to quickly reducing the threat from COVID-19 scams while
allowing the American public to focus on protecting themselves and their
families from this pandemic.”

Taking down a website is not so easy, even for law
enforcement. It usually takes collaboration with the internet domain providers
and registrars. For other spam and phishing attacks, the cooperation of
cybersecurity companies is required.

The United States is the second country, after the United
Kingdom, to crack down on this source of phishing and scams. The phenomenon
took off in February and, by March, it increased fivefold. Since the COVID-19
pandemic is not going anywhere soon, the work against these threats will likely
continue for the foreseeable future.

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