Ongoing phishing campaigns use the recent coronavirus outbreak as bait in attacks targeting individuals from the United States and the United Kingdom, impersonating the US CDC and virologists, warning of new infection cases in their area, and providing ‘safety measures.’

The global scale health crisis triggered by infections with the new 2019 novel coronavirus (also known as 2019-nCOV and Wuhan coronavirus) is exploited by the attackers for their own malicious purposes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on January 30, 2020, that the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern, while U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar on Friday also declared it a “public health emergency for the entire United States.”

Wuhan coronavirus phishing campaigns

In the phishing campaign spotted by researchers at phishing simulation and security awareness training outfit KnowBe4, the attackers promise to provide a list of active infections in the surrounding area to trick their potential victims into clicking a link embedded in the message and leading to a credential phishing page.

phishing email sample

phishing email sample

The link is camouflaged as a link to the official CDC website and it is used to redirect the victims to an attacker-controlled and Outlook-themed phishing landing page used for collecting and stealing user credentials.

Another phishing campaign using Wuhan coronavirus lures to target both US and UK individuals was detected by security firm Mimecast.

These series of phishing emails ask the recipients to “go through the attached document on safety measures regarding the spreading of coronavirus.”

“This little measures can save you,” also add the attackers, then urging the targets to download a malicious PDF designed to infect their computers with a malware payload.