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Email phishing attacks rise 667 percent

(Image credit: Image Credit: wk1003mike / Shutterstock)

The coronavirus outbreak has seen the quantity of phishing attacks skyrocket over the past three months.

According to security firm Barracuda Networks, 137 coronavirus-related phishing emails were identified in January, 1,188 in February and over 9,000 in March. That equates to a 667 percent increase since the end of February.

Hackers have been seen to set up fake charities, supposedly to combat the spread of the coronavirus. In other instances, criminals have impersonated the World Health Organisation.

“This is a new low for cyber criminals, who are acting like piranha fish, cowardly attacking people on mass when they are at their most vulnerable,” commented Dean Russell, MP for Watford and member of the Health and Social Care Select Committee.

“It’s vital that the public remain vigilant against scam emails during this challenging time," he added.

Despite the rise, however, coronavirus-related threats account for only two percent of email-based attacks. According to Barracuda Networks, 467,825 email attacks have been identified worldwide since the start of March.

The goals of such campaigns are always either to distribute malware, steal login credentials, or defraud victims.