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Google flags increase in state-based coronavirus phishing attacks

Google flags increase in state-based coronavirus phishing attacks

Google's Threat Analysis Group found hackers targeting international health organisations

Credit: Dreamstime

Security experts at Google have identified more than a dozen government-backed hacking groups using the COVID-19 pandemic as cover for phishing and malware attempts.

Google said on Wednesday its Threat Analysis Group found hackers targeting international health organisations, including activity corroborating a Reuters report from early April that the World Health Organisation was targeted.

WHO and other organisations, at the center of a global effort to contain the coronavirus, have come under a sustained digital bombardment by hackers seeking information about the outbreak.

Google said it has detected 18 million malware and phishing Gmail messages per day related to the coronavirus outbreak.

"One notable campaign attempted to target personal accounts of US government employees with phishing lures using American fast food franchises and COVID-19 messaging," Google said in a blog post.

Some messages also offered free meals and coupons in response to COVID-19, others suggested recipients visit sites disguised as online ordering and delivery options, according to the blog post.

Google said it was working to identify and prevent threats, using a combination of internal investigative tools, information sharing with industry partners and law enforcement, as well as leads and intelligence from third-party researchers.

(Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)


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