Hackers Exploit the Coronavirus Crisis, Send Malicious Emails

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Dr Jane Ruth Aceng I Courtesy Photo

While Uganda’s Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng has spent sleepless nights lately dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, some fraudsters are scamming Ugandans in her name.

From appearing on time for the many media conferences to sitting in planning meetings (sometimes with the President) for long hours, the Hon. Minister has lost weight lately due to the overwhelming commitments in an effort to save Ugandans from the deadly infection.

Most people have appreciated her for the terrific work on her official Facebook Page, while TV opinion polls also flooded with ‘thank you’ messages for the Minister. Uganda currently has 55 infections, no deaths, while a total of 8 COVID-19 patients were discharged as of yesterday. Globally, over 2 million people have been infected with the virus and close to 130,000 lives lost.

However, it appears as if scammers do not know seasons—several malicious emails have been sent out to Ugandans in the name of Ministry of Health Uganda, while a fake Instagram account now operates under the Minister’s name.

The e-mail currently circulating made as if it is legitimate and from the Health Ministry is from lydiaguhirwa@gmail.com but the account is named “Dr Diana Atwine” 

Some of the messages prompt readers to click a particular link, which experts suggest could either hack personal information and passwords or install malware to your device. Other e-mails ask for donations to the Ministry to fight the disease. 

“Dear friends, 

The malicious individuals are at it again. They have created a fake Instagram account under my name. I want to inform you all that I DO NOT have an Instagram account and please do not respond to any information coming from that profile. It is a scam”, writes the Hon. Minister on her official Facebook page.

Beware of the different types of attacks with coronavirus features including business email compromise (BEC), malware, credential phishing and spam email campaigns. 

Sometimes, the messages involve logos, photos, wording, and information of reputable brands.

Among the big names affected is the World Health Organization (WHO), which according to Reuters sees up to 2,000 attacks in a single day during this coronavirus emergency.

What do the scammers want?

Didn’t you know that many people do scams for a living? Besides the earth and physical office spaces that most of us know, we also have a virtual/ online space called the ‘cyberspace’. Unfortunately, there are numerous wars (cyberwars) happening there. 

The hackers who are manipulating this global health tragedy are from that part of the world and demand ransoms. Remember the story of the American tourist kidnapped in Western Uganda and her hijackers demanded $30,000 ransom? A similar thing is seen in today’s virtual attacks. The fraudsters want access to your money and other crucial information. 

Stay safe from both the coronavirus and scammers

The Uganda government recommends you do the following :

· Call 0800-100-060 to reach out to the Ministry of Health for any COVID-19 related information. 

· Disregard any emails that come from “Ministry of Health” through Gmail. All government ministries have the extension.go.ug.

· All donations are made to the COVID-19 taskforce and not directly to the Ministry of Health. Find the nearest taskforce to you and help the fight against the coronavirus.

· Call the Uganda Police on 999 to report any suspicious acts.

We have enough problems already. We can’t afford to lose a penny to scammers!

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