Exploiting the Coronavirus: The Spammers, the Scammers, and the Bad Guys

By Eric Howes, KnowBe4 Principal Lab Researcher. If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the past week or so, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that the majority of the stories on your preferred news site are now linked to the Coronavirus (aka COVID-19). Unfortunately, ignorance, fear, misinformation, and even malicious disinformation appear to be spreading almost as fast the virus itself – a turn of events some are now calling an “infodemic.”

Put another way, despite our sophisticated computing devices and globe-spanning information networks we seem to be no less vulnerable than previous generations to the very worst of human behavior that tends to rear its ugly head during health crises such as this one. We just happen to do our FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) more quickly and efficiently than our parents and grandparents. (Hooray for us.)

Plenty of news outlets have already reported on the rise of coronavirus-related phishing emails. We figured it might be useful to provide a short survey – with a generous helping of screenshots – of the virus-themed emails that have been reported to us by customers using the Phish Alert Button (PAB). These run the gamut from ordinary spam attempting to leverage the crisis for quick financial gain to downright dangerous emails designed to exploit fear and ignorance in order to compromise victims’ online accounts and install malware.

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