During times of uncertainty we should all take a moment to pause before succumbing to our natural “fight or flight” instincts created by well-crafted phishing emails. Scammers are constantly adapting to take advantage of crises, and this latest crisis about the Coronavirus is no exception. 

Action Needed

Please review the tips below to avoid email scams. Links to additional resources, including government agencies, concerning this threat can also be found in Actions.


According to IBM X-Force researchers, more malicious email traffic based on the coronavirus is expected as the infection spreads. This will probably include varied languages too. "Unfortunately, it is quite common for threat actors to exploit basic human emotions such as fear – especially if a global event has already caused terror and panic.”

Tips to avoid "PHISH" email scams:

  1. Never use your smartphone to open email messages that are unexpected or seem odd. While smartphones offer email convenience, their small screens omit certain information about the messages we receive such as the sender’s full email address and the ability to hover over links to identify the URL. Waiting to view the message on a computer may save your device from being compromised.
  2. Malicious links in phishing emails will not be from who they claim to be. Often they link to compromised servers in other countries. Looking at the link before you click will often help to identify a malicious site. Kaspersky.com provides this example: A phishing email claims to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This real organization in the United States which  provides information regarding the coronavirus uses the domain cdc.gov.  The phish uses a similar domain, cdc-gov.org, which requires a close look to realize it is a spoof. 
  3. Avoid emails in your Junk Email folder.  WPI’s Advanced Threat Protection places risky email in the Junk Email folder. Please be very wary of opening one of these messages unless you are absolutely positive it was placed there in error.

Image Credit: CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM