coronavirus illustration

High Number of Recently Created Coronavirus Websites Linked to Scamming Operations

Americans need to be on the lookout for malicious domains created by scammers as well as widespread disinformation and conspiracy theories being spread online.

Hackers are increasingly using the coronavirus to lure people seeking information about the epidemic into entering their personal information on spam sites.

Since January, over 4,000 coronavirus-related domains have been registered around the world, according to findings from security researchers for Check Point Research. Of those websites, 3 percent were found to be malicious and 5 percent were termed “suspicious.”

While these numbers may not sound startling at first, the malicious rate for these coronavirus-related domains is 50 percent higher than all other domains registered in the same time period. Check Point also found that the malicious rate was higher for these sites than for domains centered around seasonal themes, like Valentine’s Day.

Malicious coronavirus sites are likely designed for phishing, or taking the information of users to steal money from them or take over their accounts. Some of the websites claimed to sell face masks, cures, vaccines or home tests for the virus. Others featured discussions of the virus to lure in potential victims, according to the researchers.

The findings follow the Federal Trade Commission’s February warning to consumers to watch out for scams related to the coronavirus. The FTC noted that malicious email attachments or fake crowdfunding campaigns for supposed coronavirus victims are also threats to consumers.

“Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus,” the Feb. 10 alert reads. “They’re setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information.”

There have also been reports of scam emails purporting to be the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or, as Check Point recently discovered, the World Health Organization in Italy. The WHO phishing campaign hit over 10 percent of all organizations in Italy, according to Check Point.

The English text for the Italian email campaign reads: “Due to the number of cases of coronavirus infection that have been documented in your area, the World Health Organization has prepared a document that includes all the necessary precautions against coronavirus infection. We strongly recommend that you read the document attached to this message.”

Once the email recipient opens the document, they are instructed to click “enable editing” or “enable content,” allowing the malicious file to start downloading malware.

Check Point recommends that consumers are cautious with emails from unknown senders and do not click on promotional links in emails or take actions that they would not usually do. Consumers should also watch out for “special” offers for cures, vaccines or tests related to the coronavirus.

In addition to the phishing threats, Americans should be aware of widespread disinformation campaigns. State Department officials are linking online disinformation about the virus to a Russian operation behind “swarms of online, false personas” spreading conspiracy theories on line, The Washington Post reported.

Nearly 2 million tweets over a three-week period were found to have amplified coronavirus-related conspiracy theories around the world, according to a State Department estimate revealed by the Post. Legislators are calling on the department to release more detailed findings from its investigation.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

Featured

  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    7 Ways You Can Secure a High-Traffic Commercial Security Gate  

    Your commercial security gate is one of your most powerful tools to keep thieves off your property. Without a security gate, your commercial perimeter security plan is all for nothing. Read Now

  • Busy South Africa Building Integrates Custom Access Control System

    Nicol Corner, based in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, South Africa, is home to a six-star fitness club, prime office space, and an award-winning rooftop restaurant. This is the first building in South Africa to have its glass façade fully incorporate fritted glazing, saving 35% on energy consumption. Nicol Corner (Pty) LTD has developed a landmark with sophisticated design and unique architecture by collaborating with industry-leading partners and specifying world-class equipment throughout the project. This includes installing a high-spec, bespoke security and access control system. Read Now

  • Only 13 Percent of Research Institutions Are Prepared for AI

    A new survey commissioned by SHI International and Dell Technologies underscores the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) while exposing significant gaps in preparedness at many research institutions. Read Now

  • Survey: 70 Percent of Organizations Have Established Dedicated SaaS Security Teams

    Seventy percent of organizations have prioritized investment in SaaS security, establishing dedicated SaaS security teams, despite economic uncertainty and workforce reductions. This was a key finding in the fourth Annual SaaS Security Survey Report: 2025 CISO Plans and Priorities released today by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), the world’s leading organization dedicated to defining standards, certifications, and best practices to help ensure a secure cloud computing environment. Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

Webinars

New Products

  • EasyGate SPT and SPD

    EasyGate SPT SPD

    Security solutions do not have to be ordinary, let alone unattractive. Having renewed their best-selling speed gates, Cominfo has once again demonstrated their Art of Security philosophy in practice — and confirmed their position as an industry-leading manufacturers of premium speed gates and turnstiles. 3

  • ResponderLink

    ResponderLink

    Shooter Detection Systems (SDS), an Alarm.com company and a global leader in gunshot detection solutions, has introduced ResponderLink, a groundbreaking new 911 notification service for gunshot events. ResponderLink completes the circle from detection to 911 notification to first responder awareness, giving law enforcement enhanced situational intelligence they urgently need to save lives. Integrating SDS’s proven gunshot detection system with Noonlight’s SendPolice platform, ResponderLink is the first solution to automatically deliver real-time gunshot detection data to 911 call centers and first responders. When shots are detected, the 911 dispatching center, also known as the Public Safety Answering Point or PSAP, is contacted based on the gunfire location, enabling faster initiation of life-saving emergency protocols. 3

  • QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC)

    QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC)

    The latest Qualcomm® Vision Intelligence Platform offers next-generation smart camera IoT solutions to improve safety and security across enterprises, cities and spaces. The Vision Intelligence Platform was expanded in March 2022 with the introduction of the QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC), which delivers superior artificial intelligence (AI) inferencing at the edge. 3