Phishing for a Vaccine

With the first round of vaccines becoming available, we should expect to see numerous scams in the upcoming weeks about when and how to obtain one. The first doses of the vaccines will be given to healthcare workers and the elderly, those who are the most exposed and vulnerable to the coronavirus. It will be a while before the vaccine is distributed to the general public; however, that will not stop people from trying to convince others they could get it sooner by providing their personal information in a phishing campaign. Various phishing emails have already been sent about how to sign up to get the vaccine early or how paying a certain price could allow for an appointment.

These scams are not limited to emails either. They can come in the form of emails, phone calls, texts, robocalls, or even social media posts. It is important not to answer calls or texts from unknown numbers and to never share personal or financial information over the phone. Individuals should also be weary of being pressured into sharing information or being required to make a payment immediately for any reason. If a scam comes in the form of a text or an email, it is imperative the user be cautious and not click on any links. These phishing attacks can lead to a user’s device being infected with malware in order to obtain any personal or financial information. With an attacker obtaining this information it can potentially lead to identity theft.

Over the past year thousands of domains have been registered with typo-squatting related to COVID-19, vaccine, and other like terms. The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) mentioned in an alert back in July that they had seen significant increases in targeted phishing campaigns. Originally, these started as alerts in the form of calls or texts that are claiming to be contact tracers informing an individual, they may have come into contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus. Now these same types of attacks will be targeted toward the vaccine instead of contact tracing. It is important to be vigilant and aware of illegitimate offers to cures for coronavirus or faster access to a vaccine that come via text, call or email over the next several months before the vaccine is available to the general public.