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UK and US security agencies warn of ongoing coronavirus cyber threat

By PA News
The National Cyber Security Centre warned of email scams exploiting fear around the spread of the coronavirus (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Security agencies in the UK and US have warned that increasing numbers of cybercriminals are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to target people.

They have warned that email scams exploiting fear around the spread of the virus and false offers of face masks and thermometers are becoming more common.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) at the US Department of Homeland Security have urged people and businesses to remain vigilant.

In a joint advisory, they said they had seen examples of scams which included emails containing malware which posed as being official messages from the director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It also highlighted emails which claim to warn of a “coronavirus outbreak in your city” as often being used as a phishing attempt – a common email scam among cybercriminals which uses an enticing email to get recipients to either enter personal details or click on a link which releases malware onto their computer.

The security agencies also encouraged those working from home to check their security settings after detecting criminals scanning for vulnerabilities in software and tools used for remote working.

It comes as millions of people continue working from home as part of lockdown rules in place during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Paul Chichester, director of operations at the NCSC, said: “Malicious cyber actors are adjusting their tactics to exploit the Covid-19 pandemic and the NCSC is working around the clock with its partners to respond.

“Our advice to the public and organisations is to remain vigilant and follow our guidance, and to only use trusted sources of information on the virus such as UK Government, Public Health England or NHS websites.”


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