Google Warns of Emerging #COVID19 Cyber-Threat Hotspots

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Google has warned of a rise in COVID-19 threats in specific parts of the world, as cyber-criminals adapt their campaigns regionally.

The tech giant’s Gmail security product manager, Neil Kumaran, and lead security PMM for G Suite and GCP, Sam Lugani, explained that they’re blocking more attacks of late in India, the UK and Brazil.

These malware, phishing and spam threats “use regionally relevant lures, financial incentives and fear to create urgency and entice users to respond,” they said yesterday.

In the UK, for example, attackers are impersonating the government with reference to the Small Business Grant Fund and other schemes designed to support organizations through the crisis. This chimes with what others are seeing: a recent phishing campaign was spotted targeting those interested in the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

Other attacks blocked by Google in the UK spoofed the firm itself in messages designed to access personal information.

In Brazil, Google warned of an uptick in phishing attacks spoofing streaming services, with some using a more aggressive approach, by claiming the recipient will be fined if they don’t respond.

In India, there has been an increase in the volume of malicious emails purporting to come from established health insurance companies, providers of COVID-19 symptom tracking services and the government’s Aarogya Setu initiative, designed to connect citizens to essential health services.

Google didn’t provide specific threat data on the scale of the increase in specific regions, but its update should be a reminder that COVID-19 scams are still very much active around the world. Last month the firm revealed that it was blocking 18 million daily malware and phishing emails and over 240 million spam emails targeting its Gmail users.

Kumaran and Lugani urged organizations to adopt DMARC to help prevent spam and abuse of their brand.

It’s a message echoed by US-based industry body the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG) this week.

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