Beware COVID-related vaccine emails. They’re probably fake

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Beware COVID-related vaccine emails. They’re probably fake

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Beware COVID related emails, as they could really sting.

Researchers say emails with subject lines related to a coronavirus vaccine are being used to trick recipients into handing over personal information.

If you get an unsolicited email promising a COVID vaccine, the hope from the hacker is that you click on the link request in the body of the email, which in turn would let the hacker take control of your computer and gain access to your personal information.

Should one of these emails arrive in your inbox, don’t click on any links.

But “I wouldn’t even open it,” says Mark Ostrowski, head of engineering for security firm Check Point Research. 

It would be safer to just delete the message immediately, he says.

The emails Ostrowski caught instruct you to download malicious Windows, Word and Excel files. The attacks are aimed at Windows users; the Apple computer community is unaffected.

The good news: The actual number coronavirus-related attacks is down, but overall malware and phishing attempts on multiple subjects are up, he says.

Check Point researchers noted an average of 61,000 coronavirus-related attacks in July, compared with a weekly average of 130,000 attacks in June.

Hackers are now pushing all the usual buttons, with fake emails related to summer activities, the election and health to get non-savvy folks to give away their credentials.

Ostrowski’s advice: “The same as before,” he says. “Be vigilant about unsolicited emails.”

Other tips:

  • Check the full email address on any message and be alert to hyperlinks that may contain misspellings of the actual domain name.
  • Do not supply login credentials or personal information in response to a text or email.

Check Point found that 80% of attacks occur via email, the method of choice for hackers. It’s more economical than other phishing attempts, and people are more likely to respond.

Even the savviest of internet users have been stung by phishing attempts, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager John Podesta.


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