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COVID-19 Email Phishing Against US Healthcare Providers

email phishing

The toll on life in the United States and the world left by COVID-19 has been great. The impact on our families, health, businesses, and the world economy will be felt by many for years to come. Hospitals of every type — private and public, urban and rural — are especially paying a heavy price to Covid-19. Not only are they trying to keep their patients and doctors healthy despite a shortage of supplies, but many have canceled or postponed elective surgeries, such as heart surgery or even cancer treatments. ¹We owe much gratitude to the heroes working in our hospitals and many other essential professions that have stepped up big in this Nation’s time of need.

Email Phishing Attempts Rise During COVID-19

During the challenging days ahead one of the last threats any of us wants to be faced with is a phishing attack on our businesses or at home. However, unfortunately on March 18, 2020, network perimeter cybersecurity tools associated with US-based medical providers, identified email phishing attempts from domestic and international IP addresses. The emails contained subjects related to the COVID-19 pandemic and included malicious files as attachments. ²The attachments were in the form of Microsoft Word Document files, 7-zip compressed files, Microsoft Visual Basic Script, Java, and Microsoft Executables.

The FBI Flash provides sound advice on maintaining preventative controls against cybercrimes such as phishing attacks.

The FBI’s top recommendations for managing phishing attacks include,

  • Training employees throughout your business to be wary of unsolicited attacks, even from people they know. Cyber actors can “spoof” the return address, making it look like the message came from a trusted associate.
  • Don’t open suspicious emails or email attachments. Install software patches so that attackers can’t take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities.
  • If you or the company is a victim of a cyber intrusion related to email phishing, please retain any logs, image(s) of the infected device(s), and memory capture of all affected, if possible, to assist in the response by the FBI.

With the increasing threat of phishing attacks, we all need to remain vigilant in staying alert to the various types of phishing attacks, know what phishing emails look like, how to respond to emails that request personally identifiable information, and how an attack can impact our lives and businesses. Every business should implement and periodically update its procedures regarding the protection of its customers, employees, and other users’ personally identifiable information found in business-critical systems. Lastly, be sure to check your spam filtering security. When controls are working effectively, these systems should be keeping spam emails from reaching your company’s or private mailboxes.

For additional cybersecurity information, reach out to our experts at FoxPointe Solutions today! For more information about the FBI Flash Alert, click here

This blog was written and produced by William Veit, MBA, Senior Security Consultant at FoxPointe Solutions. Looking to get in touch with William? Reach out today:

Sources include:

¹Vox COVID-19 Medical Health Article Link

²TLP: White FBI Flash Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cyber Division, Alert Number MI-000122-MW April 21, 2020

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