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Hackers use phishing attacks to take advantage of coronavirus crisis

The spread of the Wuhan coronavirus and the threat to public health is being exploited by cybercriminals who are using the global crisis to launch malicious phishing campaigns.

On Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response warned that phishing attacks have been made via emails with attached Word documents—as well as PDF and MP4 file attachments—offering guidance on how to prevent infection.

In addition, ASPR’s Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection reported that hackers have sent spam emails to users in Japan alerting them about a supposed new strain of coronavirus.

“There is an expectation that there will be more malicious email traffic based on 2019-nCOV in the future,” according to ASPR.

To prevent falling prey to these phishing campaigns, healthcare organizations are recommended to use a warning banner on all externally originating emails and are advised to remind their staff to not click on suspicious emails, links or attachments.

On Friday, HHS Secretary Alex Azar declared the coronavirus a public health emergency. Azar took the action following a declaration by the World Health Organization that spread of the virus constituted a public health emergency of international concern.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that 11 people in the United States have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and reported that there are 260 U.S. patients in under investigation for the virus in 36 states.

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