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Covid-19 phishing emails increase more than 500% following Omicron concerns

According to Barracuda Networks, the Covid-19 Omicron variant has led to a 521% increase in phishing emails using the virus in an attempt to trick victims into clicking malicious links.

Social engineering attacks often use newsworthy events as bait, and COVID-19 provided the perfect opportunity when it emerged in 2020.

A 667% month-on-month increase in COVID-19 phishing emails was observed by the security vendor during February and March of that year. The increase was further accelerated when the new vaccines were released at the beginning of 2021.

Naturally, with the mass news attention Omicron has received in recent months, scammers have started to capitalise on the situation.

Offers of counterfeit or unauthorized COVID-19 tests and protective equipment such as masks or gloves are some of the tactics used to trick users into clicking on malicious links and revealing personal information.

Others include fake notifications for unpaid tests, with the victim being urged to provide their PayPal details in order to have the kits delivered.

“Capitalizing on the chaos of the pandemic is not a new trend in the world of cybercrime. Yet with constantly evolving tactics, and new trends to latch on to, it’s easy to see why scammers are not giving up on this trick,”

“Just like the threat of COVID-19, pandemic-themed scams are not going to disappear overnight, but fortunately, there are a number of tactics that businesses and consumers can employ to ensure they remain protected.”

Fleming Shi – Barracuda Networks, Chief Technical Officer

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