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There is a new wave of spam emails using the coronavirus to scare recipients into opening attachments and infecting their computers with dangerous malware.
It seems like cybercriminals will take any advantage they can to steal your valuable personal and financial information. Recently, spam emails have been seen that use the coronavirus as a motivator to get recipients to open emails designed to hack their systems. These malicious acts are one more example of how some bad actors are highly motivated to get your data – even if it means using a tragedy to do so.
Thus far, the coronavirus has spread far and wide enough – and killed enough people – to make it officially a pandemic according to the World Health Organization. While the risk to Americans remains low, officials are not sure if that will remain true. Plenty of people are worried about it, particularly in Asia, and they have reason to be.
Apparently, hackers have taken notice of how strongly people are reacting to news of the coronavirus and have developed spam to take advantage of those fears. A spam campaign has hit Japan that uses fear of the coronavirus to motivate recipients to open malicious emails and the attachments they contain. Once they open the email and the Microsoft Office files they contain, they launch a process that will eventually hit their systems with the Emotet Trojan.
The Emotet Trojan has actually been targeting businesses in the United States and throughout North America for some time now. It is not something you want on your computer system, especially if you are operating a small business. It is designed to steal your private information so that hackers can use it for identity theft. If your information is compromised, you could face numerous headaches trying to set things right again.
Be careful about opening email attachments.
The spam emails discussed above follow the same pattern that so many others do. They find a way to appeal to you emotionally – fears of a dangerous virus – and then ask you to follow a link or open an attachment.
If you follow a link, it will often look like it’s a legitimate site, maybe one you use often – like your bank’s website. But the site isn’t the one you think it is. Instead, it’s designed to trick you into giving up your personal information. It might ask you to log in and steal your password. Or, it could ask for things like your social security number.
If there is an attachment with the email, it may appear as though it’s something you are familiar with, like a Microsoft Office file. But once you open the file you allow the malicious software in the attachment to infect your computer.
It is generally a good idea to avoid following links and opening attachments you get in emails, particularly emails from senders you are not familiar with. If you need to follow a link, just log in to the website directly. And make sure you know the sender if you are opening attachments – and scan them for malware as well.