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Coronavirus Phishing Emails

How do I spot a coronavirus phishing email?

information by Norton.com

The overwhelming amount of news coverage surrounding the novel coronavirus has created a new danger — phishing attacks looking to exploit public fears about the sometimes-deadly virus.

How does it work? Cybercriminals send emails claiming to be from legitimate organizations with information about the coronavirus.

Coronavirus-themed phishing emails can take different forms, below are some examples of what these phishing emails look like. (All examples below come from the U.S. Health and Human Services website.)

CDC Alerts

Cybercriminals have sent phishing emails designed to look like they’re from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The email might falsely claim to link to a list of coronavirus cases in your area. “You are immediately advised to go through the cases above for safety hazard,” the text of one phishing email reads.

What do the emails look like? Here’s an example of a fake CDC email.

Health Advice Emails

Phishers have sent emails that offer purported medical advice to help protect you against the coronavirus. The emails might claim to be from medical experts near Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak began. “This little measure can save you,” one phishing email says. “Use the link below to download Safety Measures.”

Below is what a fake health-advice email might look like. Notice that the bad actor is trying to get the victim to download a malicious file posed as a “safety measures”.

Workplace Policy Emails

Cybercriminals have targeted employees’ workplace email accounts. One phishing email begins, “All, Due to the coronavirus outbreak, [company name] is actively taking safety precautions by instituting a Communicable Disease Management Policy.” If you click on the fake company policy, you’ll download malicious software.

Below is an example of a workplace policy phishing email.

Tips for recognizing and avoiding phishing emails

Here are some ways to recognize and avoid coronavirus-themed phishing emails.

Like other types of phishing emails, the email messages usually try to lure you into clicking on a link or providing personal information that can be used to commit fraud or identity theft. Here’s some tips to avoid getting tricked.

  • Beware of online requests for personal information. A coronavirus-themed email that seeks personal information like your Social Security number or login information is a phishing scam. Legitimate government agencies won’t ask for that information. Never respond to the email with your personal data.
  • Check the email address or link. You can inspect a link by hovering your mouse button over the URL to see where it leads. Sometimes, it’s obvious the web address is not legitimate. But keep in mind phishers can create links that closely resemble legitimate addresses. Delete the email.
  • Watch for spelling and grammatical mistakes. If an email includes spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors, it’s likely a sign you’ve received a phishing email. Delete it.
  • Look for generic greetings. Phishing emails are unlikely to use your name. Greetings like “Dear sir or madam” signal an email is not legitimate.
  • Avoid emails that insist you act now. Phishing emails often try to create a sense of urgency or demand immediate action. The goal is to get you to click on a link and provide personal information — right now. Instead, delete the message.