UBIT warns students of 'cybercriminals' taking advantage of COVID-19

UBIT warns of phishing attempts, urges community to be cautious


Cybercriminals are using phishing attacks to take advantage of COVID-19 worries, according to UB Information Technology. 

The Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization warned that cybercriminals are using the organnizations’ names and images for phishing attacks –– when cybercriminals pose as reputable organizations to convince people to share personal information. The University of Michigan warned students to beware of scams including: promotion of products that claim to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19; requests for money from fraudulent charities; misinformation; phishing; and links to malicious websites disguised as COVID-19 maps. UBIT wrote in a news release that “phishing emails will likely include alerts and warnings about the coronavirus outbreak, along with a link.” 

UBIT stated on its website that people should be skeptical of emails that ask users to click on a link or open an attachment, people should “watch out for” spelling and grammatical errors, see where a link leads before clicking by checking the URL and avoiding entering personal data “that a website shouldn't be asking for.”

Chris Yang | The Spectrum

Diana Tuorto, a UBIT communications officer, wrote in an email that there is a malicious website pretending to be John Hopkins University’s map for COVID-19 global cases. The website infects computers with “AZORult trojan,” an information stealing program, according to Tuorto. 

The WHO warned on its website that authentic emails from representatives from the WHO end in “@who.int” and that “If there is anything other than ‘who.int’ after the ‘@’ symbol, [the] sender is not from WHO.”

UBIT stated in a news release that authentic links to the CDC website end in “cdc.gov” while fraudulent websites might end in something like “cdc-gov.org.”

UBIT wrote that if anyone thinks they are a victim of a phishing scam, they should change their passwords, avoid using the same password on more than one site and turn on two-factor authentication. 

The WHO urges people who think they see scams to report them. 

Julian Roberts-Grmela is a senior news editor and can be reached at julian.grmela@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @GrmelaJulian


Julian Roberts-Grmela is a senior news editor for The Spectrum and an English and philosophy major. His favorite book is “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith and he hopes that one day his writing will be as good as hers.