Crims target Aussies in new SMS coronavirus scam

The nation's cyber spooks have warned the public that organised crime groups are sending out fake medical alerts and government advisories related to COVID-19, to steal identities for fraud.

Such is their sophistication, the Australian Signals Directorate has found evidence they have even perfected the 'myGov' alpha tag so SMS messages appear below previous legitimate myGov alerts on mobile phones.

 

Stealing personal data through a laptop concept for computer hacker, network security and electronic banking security
Stealing personal data through a laptop concept for computer hacker, network security and electronic banking security

 

"A key concern for the Australian Cyber Security Centre is cyber criminals looking to prey on businesses as they transition to an increasingly remote workforce," said Karl Hanmore, acting head of Australian Cyber Security Centre a division of the Australian Signals Directorate.

"Cyber criminals are very opportunistic and we are seeing an increased targeting of Australians through COVID-19 themed malicious activities."

He said in the last few weeks, the ACSC had seen thousands of COVID-19-related websites being registered, some of which were created by cyber actors "seeking to exploit Australians during this difficult time".

 

Internet Theft – a hooded man looking at computer screen using magnifying glass; scams, scammer, fraud generic
Internet Theft – a hooded man looking at computer screen using magnifying glass; scams, scammer, fraud generic

 

The bulk had been coming from Eastern and Western Europe, Asia and Africa.

The fake myGov campaign had been the most concerning since they were appearing on legitimate SMS message strings.

"This adaptation shows how quickly cyber criminals react to disruption and education campaigns by government and business," he said.

Another appears to direct consumers with COVID-19 alerts to a fake Australia Post site which once entered by an unsuspecting person, their personal details are harvested to steal identities to then open bank accounts to purchase luxury items or transfer money into untraceable cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

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Australian Signals Directorate HQ in Canberra working overtime to stop COVID-19 scams.
Australian Signals Directorate HQ in Canberra working overtime to stop COVID-19 scams.

 

Other fake emails appear to come from the World Health Organisation updating global safety measures or the Australian government with advice on how to receive COVID-19 relief payments of $2500 and a fake application form.

"Cyber criminals are very opportunistic and we are seeing an increased targeting of Australians through COVID-19 themed malicious activities," he said.

The ACSC advised consumers to read messages carefully, on computers hover the mouse over a link to see if it's a legitimate URL, Google research the information or telephone the legitimate organisation referenced to ask it sent out an alert.

Originally published as Crims target Aussies in new SMS coronavirus scam


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