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Multiple Phishing Attacks Discovered Using the Coronavirus Theme

It’s out there in the newspaper, social media, and television headlines. The Coronavirus (aka 2019-nCov, or, officially, COVID-19) has swept the news throughout the world, creating panic and spreading fear everywhere.  For accurate information about the coronavirus, you may visit the WHO’s website here.

Inevitably, and sadly, bad guys take advantage of such events using fear to trick victims into opening attachments or clicking links that they usually would not. Closely monitoring our systems, we found a couple of phishing examples that seek to take advantage of this event.

Phishing Using Malicious Links

The first email contains a URL. The HTML display link is a legitimate site (cdc.gov), but when hovered over with the mouse pointer, it reveals its true link. And when clicked, it redirects to a different website.



As you can see below, the web page listed in the email doesn’t even exist on the CDC’s website.



So while the victim believes they are clicking on a legitimate CDC URL, they will be redirected to the credential phishing site, which asks for an Outlook username and password. Any victim trying to log in on the website will be handing the attackers their username and password.



Phishing Using Malicious Attachment

The second example of the phishing comes with a PDF attachment. The email suggests that the victim needs to open the attachment as part of the precautionary measure. The email contains false claims that New Zealand has confirmed cases of the said pandemic outbreak.



When the victim opens the attached PDF file, the file contains an image and asks the user to click to be able to access the document. There will be the usual warning from Adobe Reader about the URL redirection.



If the user proceeds, they will be directed to the phishing landing page, as shown below. The victim has two choices, either Office 365 or any ‘Other’ email provider to log on.  This highlights the emphasis that the attackers place on Office 365 credentials, which, if gained, can open the door to all manner of future attacks, like BEC or spear-phishing attacks within an organization, for example.



Clicking on the Office 365 button leads to the following user interface to enter an email address and password to gain access. Based on the source code, stolen credentials will be forwarded to another page, send01.php hosted on the same website.


Clicking to the other button will only lead to another similar user interface, the only difference being the header image. Also, based on the source code, the stolen credentials will be forwarded to another page, send03.php hosted on the same website.



Precautionary measures should be employed when these kinds of emails are received in your mailbox.

  • Be mindful of the content of the email on what it wants you to do or access.
  • Get reliable news from reliable sources, i.e., don’t rely on unexpected spam!
  • Check the link first before clicking by doing a mouse hover over on it.

Finally, using a Secure Email Gateway can help prevent these types of phishing emails from even getting to your user’s inbox. In this case, the Trustwave Secure Email Gateway customers are already protected against these attacks.


  • hxxp:/rightblinds[.]net/corona/owa[.]php
  • hxxp://slmcontabilidade[.]com[.]br

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