What’s happened?

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is aware of a significant increase in Australians being targeted with COVID-19 themed scams, fraud attempts and deceptive email schemes.

Cybercrime actors are pivoting their online criminal methods to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. On average each month, the ACSC receives about 4,400 cybercrime reports through ReportCyber, and responds to 168 cyber security incidents.

Since 10 March, the ACSC has:

  • received more than 95 cybercrime reports (approximately two per day) about Australians losing money or personal information to COVID-19 themed scams and online frauds,
  • responded to 20 cyber security incidents affecting COVID-19 response services and/or major national suppliers in the current climate, and
  • disrupted over 150 malicious COVID-19 themed websites, with assistance from Australia’s major telecommunications providers, as well as Google and Microsoft.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch has received over 1,100 reports about COVID-19 themed scams from individuals and businesses losing money or personal information to online frauds across Australia.

These phishing campaigns are often sophisticated, with cybercriminals aligning malicious activities within days – sometimes even within hours – of government announcements such as relief payments or public health guidance. They prey on people’s desire for information, imitating trusted and well-known organisations or government agencies.

Visiting these fake websites or clicking on malicious links may automatically install computer viruses or malware onto your device, giving cyber criminals the ability to steal your financial and personal information.

These scams have continued to increase over the past month and the ACSC strongly encourages organisations and individuals to remain alert and follow advice on how to protect yourself and your business.

Read the ACSC’s threat report for examples on what to look out for and practical cyber security advice that organisations and individuals can follow to reduce the risk of harm.

More information

The ACSC has published a range of information about COVID-19 related malicious activity, as well as guidance on securing remote working and video conferencing. For more information, please visit www.cyber.gov.au/covid-19

If you’ve suffered financial loss from cybercrime, report it to ReportCyber at www.cyber.gov.au/report

To stay up to date on the latest online threats and how to respond, sign up to the Stay Smart Online Alert Service, www.staysmartonline.gov.au/alert-service

More advice and support is available on our Get Help page or through our government partners, such as ACCCeSafety and OAIC, for more valuable support, tips and resources during COVID-19.

For information on the COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.health.gov.au