Hackers Target Companies with Coronavirus Scams

Criminals are using concerns about the coronavirus epidemic to spread infections of their own.

They are forging emails mentioning the outbreak that appear to be from business partners or public institutions in an effort to get users to open the messages, unleashing malware.

The number of malicious emails mentioning the coronavirus has increased significantly since the end of January, according to cybersecurity firm Proofpoint Inc., which is monitoring the activity. The company recently assigned an analyst to track coronavirus threats, something it hasn’t done for prior hacking campaigns related to disasters or major public events, said Sherrod DeGrippo, Proofpoint’s senior director of threat research and detection. Proofpoint analysts now see multiple email campaigns mentioning the coronavirus every workday.

Some robocalls are legitimate, and additional prosecutions don’t prevent more bad actors from popping up

In a rare bipartisan achievement, Congress has moved to combat the scourge of robocalls inundating Americans.

Just don’t expect the phone to stop ringing any time soon.

The robocall law, which passed both the House and Senate by wide margins, prods phone companies to cut off illegal marketers or scammers before the phone rings by spotting suspect traffic.

The legislation also boosts penalties for breakers of telephone consumer-protection laws and mandates that government agencies and companies work more closely together in stemming robocalls. The bill must still be signed by President Trump, which is expected given the near-unanimous support by both parties.

Lawmakers, industry and consumer groups say the bill represents significant steps forward, but they also concede that the calls are likely to continue—a reflection of how a lasting solution continues to elude the companies and regulators that control the telephone system.

“This isn’t going to eliminate every robocall,” said Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.), one of the bill’s prime sponsors, in an interview. “But we think it will go a long way toward getting at some of these not only annoying nuisance calls, but more importantly a lot of scam artists that prey on vulnerable populations.”

August 1, 2019

It is legal for robocallers overseas to trick U.S. consumers by disguising their phone numbers. The Federal Communications Commission just voted to change that.

The regulator voted Thursday on a change to caller-ID rules that will extend a ban on faking caller information for malicious purposes to calls coming from abroad. Scammers often…

January 1, 2019

Jeffrey Lewis Knapp saves the four to six telephone numbers his caller ID logs each day. At night he seeks his revenge, calling back the people he thinks are illegal robocallers. “How can I help you?” the Arizona-based retiree says he asks the people who answer.

The problem with Mr. Knapp’s approach: He sometimes calls people who didn’t, in fact, call him first. Instead, the individuals he calls are themselves victims of a phone-related crime called malicious number spoofing, in which callers falsify their number to disguise their identities…

July 10, 2018

Voters should ask everyone running for office this fall what they promise to do before the next election to rid the people of telemarketers.

My hope turned to chagrin as I read “Here’s What You Can Do About Robocalls” (Business & Finance, July 5), which have increased dramatically to both my landline and cellphone in the past year. The suggestions in the article haven’t been successful in my experience, and my friends feel the same. Waiting years for a call-certifying protocol that the scammers will have plenty of time to evade is not a promising solution…

July 4, 2018

Remember when phone calls meant people wanted to talk to you about something other than lowering your interest rates? These days, the phone rings so often with recorded robocall messages—You qualify! You owe! You’ve won!—answering feels like a hazard.

I hit my own robocall breaking point a month ago. I was grabbing a quick shower before catching a flight. My phone rang. Fearing I’d miss a call from my boss, who had been trying to reach me, I jumped out. But no, it was a recording instead…

June 4, 2018

U.S. and Chinese officials have been warning U.S. phone users about the latest robocalling scourge: Chinese-language junk calls.

While most non-Mandarin speakers hang up on the automated calls, police say some Chinese speakers in the U.S. have been duped into paying millions of dollars by the fraudulent messages, which often claim to be coming from the Chinese Embassy or Consulate…

March 31, 2017

Among the changes in an iPhone software update Apple Inc. released this week: a fix aimed at preventing cyberattacks on 911 centers in the U.S.

The vulnerability was exposed in October after an 18-year-old in Arizona allegedly designed code that would cause iPhones to repeatedly dial 911. A link to the code went viral on Twitter, as teenagers…

March 16, 2017

Dallas officials on Thursday walked back their claim that T-Mobile US Inc. was flooding the city’s 911 system with “ghost” calls, and pointed instead to aging technology and staffing shortages…

March 3, 2017

On a Tuesday night last October in Olympia, Wash., 911 operator Jennifer Rodgers stared at the list of incoming calls on her screen.

Normally, one or two calls at a time would trickle in at this hour. At 9:28 p.m., they began stacking up by the dozens like lines on an Excel spreadsheet…