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Covid-19 phishing attacks have evolved yet again

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Golden Sikorka)

The tactics used by cybercriminals to leverage the Covid-19 pandemic (opens in new tab) have changed once again, according to cybersecurity firm Proofpoint, which has warned businesses and individuals alike to stay vigilant.

Since day one of the Covid-19 outbreak, cybercriminals have been taking advantage of the situation to spread malware and ransomware, to steal sensitive information from businesses and individuals, and to dispossess people of their hard-earned money.

However, their strategies and tactics (opens in new tab) have shifted constantly as the pandemic has progressed. Now, as vaccines begin to roll out across the world, they have identified a new opportunity.

Proofpoint researchers have identified a couple of new phishing campaigns that seek to establish trust with the victim, before infecting them with malware or ransomware.

In some of these emails, victims are invited to participate in the merger and acquisition of a “distressed foreign company”, in others they’re invited to register for a Covid-19 vaccine. In another instance, criminals impersonated the World Health Organization to distribute AgentTesla malware, disguised as a new report on Covid-19 and the vaccine rollout.

The attackers don’t seem to be playing the numbers game, as they’re not exactly casting a wide net with these attempts. In some cases, as few as 100 victims were targeted. Most of the targets are located in the US, Canada, Austria and Germany.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.