Beware of online Coronavirus scams

By: Tim Brown, LLB, Head of Brand Protection

While these challenging times often bring out the best in our communities, it is an unfortunate fact that the organised criminal gangs who routinely abuse the Internet will also try to exploit web users’ fears and weaknesses.

Through our domain monitoring tool – Com Laude Watch – we have seen a massive spike in new domain names containing terms like COVID19 and CORONA VIRUS. Both these terms have seen over 32,000 related domain names registered in the last few weeks; while strings including CORONA CURE, CORONA MASKS and COVID TESTS have seen a similar sharp uptick.

While some of these are used to disseminate vital information, it is clear that a large number have been registered to sell fake cures, collect money for bogus charities and distribute malware.  (The BBC outlines some examples of scams.)

Similarly, phishing scams, like that seen in the picture below, pretend to come from a trusted government source and offer rebates, benefits or “goodwill” payments. Needless to say, these scams are designed to steal victims’ money and personal details.

nhs corona virus scam

Furthermore, with many now working from home, business compromise email scams have a higher chance of succeeding. These scams generally work by sending emails which appear to come from a senior member of staff (details of whom are easily found on LinkedIn or “about us” pages) and ask for urgent bank transfers or other payments to be made. It’s harder to check the authenticity of such requests when you cannot pass by a colleague’s desk and check directly.

The National Cyber Security Centre has published useful guidance for home working and it is vital to ensure that all members of staff are kept up to date with security procedures and continue to remain vigilant.

Com Laude are continuing to work very closely with our clients to ensure that their vital infrastructure remains locked-down and secure, while our brand protection service continues to detect and mitigate problems as and when they arise.

By working together we will weather these uncertain times and if you have any questions please get in touch.