Having endured a worldwide pandemic for the greater part of 14 months, we are looking forward to going back to a world without COVID-19. As vaccinations continue, lockdown restrictions ease, and more countries will open their borders for tourists from all around the world. This news is expected to be welcomed most by those who possess a passion for traveling.
However, it might be too soon to start celebrating. The increased desire to jet off to a foreign land has not gone unnoticed by cybercriminals, specifically scammers, who have taken advantage of this opportunity to deceive users into providing their private information to these scammers.
How Scammers Adapt to the Current Climate
Due to a lack of traveling over the past year, many people saw their passports expire and wanted details on renewing them. Alongside this, many were concerned about whether or not vaccine passports were going to be administered.
As a result, cyber resilience firm Webroot observed that during the first quarter of 2021, there was a 93% increase in sinister domain name registrations, which included the word “travel” in their title. In March alone, there was a 79% monthly increase in domains that contained the word “passport” on covid-related websites. These domains supposedly provided users with the ability to determine which countries they would be unable to visit with their current passports. However, this was all just a ploy to retrieve passport data from unsuspecting individuals.
The senior director of product at Webroot, Nick Emanuel, claims that the longevity of the pandemic enabled scammers to master their skills and craft these unique domain names which tailor to things people are interested in. For example, during the period when UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, provided a timetable for the UK out of lockdown at the end of March, a 169% increase in domains using standard vacation terms such as “weekend break,” “cheap,” and “last minute,” were observed.
Coronavirus Testing Interest Decreases
Despite being a goldmine for scammers at the start of the pandemic, coronavirus testing domains are now seen as unnecessary by users. Thus, scammers could not make money off it. As a result, such domains, which consisted of words such as ‘testing’ or ‘testkits,’ saw a 71% decrease during the period of January 1 and March 29.
This may seem like a victory, but the truth is that it simply highlights how cybercriminals are adapting to the news and desires of people and using chaos and uncertainty as a tool to carry out their scamming operations.
Mr. Nick offers some advice to the public in order to help them remain vigilant and prevent them from falling victim to such crimes. He says that when receiving or finding any links, whether, on email or social media, an individual must be alert and check the authenticity of the source before clicking on any link. He further emphasized using cybersecurity technology tools such as password managers, email filtering, and anti-virus protection to aid in this cause.