We already knew that lots of coronavirus-related scams and fake websites had been popping up over the past few months, but the sheer scale of the problem has now been revealed in a new threat report from McAfee.
It says that the company saw an average of 375 new threats per minute from January to the end of March 2020, and the number of bogus websites increased from 1,600 to an astonishing 39,000.
The aim of these threats is to steal your personal information for the gain of the scammers, whether to sell on that data or use it directly to take your money from you.
It’s no wonder that criminals took advantage of the pandemic: they were quick to play on people’s fears and need for information.
Phishing emails were sent to consumers pretending to be from legitimate organisations offering COVID-19 tests. They contained a document which would then illegally download their personal information. Other fake emails lured unsuspecting users in with promises of information on the spread of the virus, treatments and many contained malware-laden attachments.
Mobile malware is one of the most concerning stats with new malicious apps up 71% compared to October-December 2019.
You can read the report yourself, and McAfee has even put together a COVID-19 dashboard showing the total number of malicious files detected and their location. Currently, Spain has seen the most with almost 400,000 detections and the US in second place with just under 350,000.
Surprisingly, the UK does not appear in the list of the top 15 countries, but everyone should be vigilant as these types of scams will continue – and as the dashboard shows, the number of Trojans has jumped dramatically in July.
If you use Windows or Android, it’s a very good idea to install antivirus software and make sure it’s up to date. Don’t open attachments unless you’re sure they’re safe and type website addresses in manually rather than clicking links in unsolicited emails.