Scam of the Month – Exploiting the Coronavirus: Massive Excel Phishing Attack

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Microsoft has reported a massive phishing campaign that uses an Excel attachment as bait. The phishing email looks like it is from the Coronavirus Research Center of John Hopkins University -a well-known medical organization in the US. The email includes an Excel attachment that is disguised as an updated list of Coronavirus-related deaths, but the file actually contains a hidden piece of malware.

If you open the infected Excel file and click “Enable Content” when prompted, a program called NetSupport Manager will be automatically installed on to your computer. This program is a tool that allows someone to access your computer remotely. Cybercriminals are using NetSupport Manager to gain complete control over a victim’s system; allowing them to steal sensitive data, install more malicious software, and even use the machine for criminal activities. Don’t be a victim! Here are some ways you can protect yourself:

  • Think before you click! The bad guys know that you want to stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 data, so they use this as bait. They are trying to trick you into impulsively clicking and downloading their malware.
  • Never download an attachment from an email that you weren’t expecting. Remember, even if the sender appears to be a legitimate organization, the email address could be spoofed.
  • Always go to the source. Any time you receive an email that claims to have updated COVID-19 data, use your browser to visit the official website instead of opening an attachment or clicking a link.
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