Google says its machine learning (ML) models are currently blocking 18 million scam emails containing fake information about the coronavirus sent to its Gmail users every day.
Around one-in-five malicious emails contain COVID-19 related information, the company revealed, with hackers hoping to exploit fear around the virus using the opportunity to steal personal information and money.
The company says it is working hard to try and counteract the attacks. In a post online, Google stated: “The phishing attacks and scams we’re seeing use both fear and financial incentives to create urgency to try to prompt users to respond.
“As soon as we identify a threat, we add it to the Safe Browsing API, which protects users in Chrome, Gmail, and all other integrated products.
“Safe Browsing helps protect over four billion devices every day by showing warnings to users when they attempt to navigate to dangerous sites or download dangerous files. In G Suite, advanced phishing and malware controls are turned on by default, ensuring that all G Suite users automatically have these proactive protections in place.”
The tech giant is seeing almost 100 million phishing type attacks each day, and around 240 million spam messages with COVID-19 related content.
“Our [machine learning] models have evolved to understand and filter these threats, and we continue to block more than 99.9% of spam, phishing, and malware from reaching our users,” Google said.
- Cybercriminals Preying on COVID-19 Confusion, NCSC Warns
- Facebook to Use Bots to Pre-Empt Exploitable Platform Issues
- COVID-19 in Scotland: Curated Data Weekly Update – April 10th – 17th
The coronavirus is the perfect platform for malicious operators to attack vulnerable people with scam emails. British and US security agencies recently warned that cybercriminals and malicious online groups are increasing their efforts to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic.
A joint statement released by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) advised: “increased vigilance” for people and businesses.
Hackers are even using the opportunity to attack critical health centres, potentially putting lives at risk, and the World Health Organisation (WHO), which says it has seen a two-fold increase of COVID-19 related attacks on its systems.
Bryan Ware, CISA Assistant Director for Cybersecurity, commented: “We urge everyone to remain vigilant to these threats, be on the lookout for suspicious emails and look to trusted sources for information and updates regarding COVID-19.
“We are all in this together and collectively we can help defend against these threats.”