The world is in quarantine, and everything is in disarray. The COVID-19 outbreak has greatly increased our usage and reliance on the internet, giving hackers more opportunities to scam people with malware and phishing attacks.
According to a report from Google, these nefarious actors are proving to be very successful. Google found there were 149,195 active phishing websites in January. That number rose by 50 percent in February to 293,235 websites. Now, in March, there are 522,495—a 350 percent increase since the beginning of the year.
A major factor in the rise of these scams is fake COVID-19 websites, which may promise a cure or treatment in exchange for personal information. Security company RiskIQ has tracked coronavirus keywords to determine that over 300,000 suspicious COVID-19 websites have been created between March 9 and March 23.
There have been warning signs for years that phishing attacks are increasing. As it turns out, people are pretty bad at telling the difference between a real website or email and a fake. Now that the world has been upended, those looking to take advantage seem to have almost free rein.
In response to this out-of-control threat, the US government has prioritized cracking down on this activity. The FCC has also warned the public about phone scams related to testing kits.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to see what anyone can feasibly do about this problem. Cybercrime schemes generate $1 trillion more in revenue than Walmart, so these attacks aren’t going to stop any time soon.
What can you do about these phishing attacks? We advise you to pay attention to the websites you go to—the URL is usually a dead giveaway. And open only those emails that come from a trusted source. You should also use a password manager and a VPN to keep your information safe and privacy intact.
May 1, 2020 PC Magazine Warns Phishing Attacks Have Increased 350% During the COVID-19 Pandemic