Cyberattacks spike in midst of coronavirus worries

Be wary of emails asking for your financial support to "save humanity" or defeat the coronavirus.


Be wary of emails asking for your financial support to "save Humanity" or defeat the coronavirus. Scammers and cyberattackers are using the confusion and fear around the novel coronavirus to take advantage of unsuspecting people looking to help. Barracuda Networks, a cyber firm, has noted a huge surge in malware and phishing attempts recently.

Mark Albert recently spoke with Fleming Shi, chief technology officer of Barracuda Networks, to understand why the attacks are happening and how others can spot them. Shi's team found coronavirus-related email attacks rose by as much as 667% since March 1. A new ransomware attack has even adopted the disease's name.

"Have you ever seen such a spike in such a short amount of time?" Albert asked.

"It's a big surprise to us, yeah," Shi said.

The attacks have moved up from just scams and phishing, now to blackmail. One attack, spotted more than a thousand times, threatened to infect the victim and their family with the coronavirus.

"So they're really attacking people's fear, right?" Shi said. "I feel like this is pure evil. We've got to defend ourselves."

The Department of Homeland Security this month issued an alert about COVID-19 scams, including those online, on mobile, and on the phone. The Federal Trade Commission also issued a coronavirus consumer warning.

"A lot of people will end up falling for — to become a victim, falling for this type of scams," Shi warned.

The U.S. Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency urges the public to report to it any coronavirus-related scams or vulnerabilities.