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Govt warns against massive Covid-19 related phishing campaign

The CERT-In advisory asked users to report any unusual activity or attack at incident@cert-in.org.in.

Government warns against a phishing attack. (Image source: Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay)

The government has warned people to guard against a massive Covid-19 related phishing attack campaign that could imitate government organisations to steal sensitive personal data and financial information. The attack, expected to start today on June 21, is reported to target Indian individuals and businesses.

According to the advisory issued by CERT-In, “The phishing campaign is expected to use malicious emails under the pretext of local authorities in charge of dispensing government-funded Covid-19 support initiatives. Such emails are designed to drive recipients towards fake websites where they are deceived into downloading malicious files or entering personal and financial information.”

The CERT-In advisory said that the phishing campaign is expected to be designed to impersonate government agencies, departments, and trade associations who have been tasked to oversee the disbursement of the government financial aid. These email IDs are expected to look similar to official government domains that could easily be mistaken for the original ones. The advisory claims email IDs like “ncov2019@gov.in” could be used in the phishing attack.

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“The malicious actors are claiming to have 2 million individual/ citizen email IDs and are planning to send emails with the subject: free COVID-19 testing for all residents of Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Ahmedabad, inciting them to provide personal information,” CERT-In said.

CERT-In guide to stay safe from the phishing attack

The government agency tasked with cybersecurity also listed guidelines for the users to keep themselves safe. It said that users shouldn’t open attachments or click on a URL in an unsolicited email, even if it comes from someone they know. It asked people to close the email and go to the organisation’s website directly instead of clicking on the link in the mail.

Before providing login credentials, users should check the integrity of the URL. Phishing domains and emails usually have spelling or grammar errors, users should look for the same to stay on the safer side. It also asked to beware of clicking on phishing URLs providing special offers like winning prize, rewards, or cashback offers.

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The CERT-In advisory also asked users to report any unusual activity or attack at incident@cert-in.org.in with relevant logs, and other details.

First published on: 21-06-2020 at 14:10 IST
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