A new report reveals exponential growth in the number of phishing and website scams leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic, including websites peddling fake COVID-19 cryptocurrencies and crypto wallets that aim to siphon data for phishing. One site even claims the value of its crypto coin increases with each death from the virus.
The findings in Bolster’s Q1 2020 State of Phishing and Online Fraud Report are in line with many other industry reports analyzing hackers’ COVID-19 gold-rush in recent weeks, including Bitdefender’s own research on the subject.
For example, in Q1 2020 Bolster recorded exponential growth in phishing and website scams. Almost a third of all confirmed phishing and counterfeit pages were related to COVID-19.
In March, researchers found 102,676 websites related to medical scams, with 1,092 sites either offering Hydroxychloroquine or spreading misinformation about using it to cure COVID-19.
COVID medical scams not only play on a cure, as we’ve seen before, but also on stimulus checks and loans. Hackers are also heavily targeting remote workers and those quarantined. Remote workers are using communication and collaboration platforms more than ever, leading to a 50% increase in phishing sites preying on the practice, from January to March. Streaming phishing sites mushroomed even more in the same period – by 85%, Bolster researchers said.
But perhaps the most interesting finding in the report was this (emphasis ours):
“Bolster discovered multiple phishing websites peddling fake COVID-19 cryptocurrencies and crypto wallets that aim to siphon data for future phishing, targeted malware, or credential stealing. One COVID-19 cryptocurrency bills itself as ‘The World’s Fastest Spreading Crypto Currency’ and attempts to get visitors to download suspicious files off GitHub. Another site prompts visitors to register to find out more information about a COVID coin that ‘gains value as more people die and get infected.’”
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