- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 21, 2020

Social distancing and proper hand washing techniques aren’t the only warnings U.S. Navy sailors are being asked to heed as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps through the country. They also have to be on guard against scammers.

Navy officials said computer hackers are pretending to be with legitimate healthcare organizations like the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to either secure donations under false pretenses or spread computer viruses.

“In many cases, victims receive coronavirus-themed emails requesting the victim to open an attachment or click on a link to obtain details about the coronavirus,” Navy officials said in a statement.

Investigators have come across scams where hoax emails from what appear to be from CDC request donations through Bitcoin to fund an “incident management system” in response to the pandemic. In February, a spearphishing campaign targeting Japan - which has an extensive U.S. military presence - bombarded users with email that seemed to be providing information about how to prevent the coronavirus.

“The emails included malicious Microsoft Office files that upon opening would initiate the download of a sophisticated Trojan known as ‘Emotet,’” Navy officials said.

Russia has been identified as most likely behind the coronavirus disinformation campaigns being spread through social media, officials said.

There are a variety of “best practices” to cut down on the chance of being targeted such as using complex passwords and going directly to trustworthy websites for information rather than clicking on email attachments or links, officials said.

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