What is COVID-19 vaccination NHS email scam?
Today, COVID-19 is commonly used as the subject for various scams, including email phishing scams. Typically, cyber criminals behind them attempt to trick recipients into providing private, sensitive information. For example, social security numbers, credit card details, bank account numbers, and login credentials.
They might also use the emails to trick recipients into opening malicious files and infecting their computers with malware.
This particular email claims to be from the National Health Service (NHS), a healthcare system in England. It states that the recipient has been selected to receive a Coronavirus vaccine and asks whether he/she wants to accept or decline the invitation to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination.
The email contains two links (to accept or decline the invitation), both of which are designed to open a fake NHS website asking for information such as name, mother's maiden name, address, mobile number, credit card details, and banking information.
Recipients who provide this information on the fake NHS website should assume that those details will be misused for identity theft, fraudulent purchases and transactions, and other malicious purposes.
Note that the only genuine NHS website address is nhs[.]uk, and not others such as nhs.gov[.]uk or nhs.org[.]uk.
Here is an article (on the official NHS page) on how to spot a scam.
|Name||COVID-19 Vaccination NHS Email Scam|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Disguise||Invitation from NHS to receive Coronavirus vaccine|
|Related Domain/Fake NHS Webste||dpcpack[.]com|
|Serving IP Address||22.214.171.124|
|Symptoms||Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of the computer.|
|Distribution methods||Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.|
|Damage||Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.|
|Malware Removal (Windows)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
These emails can also be used to deliver malware. Usually, malspam contain malicious attachments or website links. The main purpose is to trick recipients into opening the malicious files.
How do spam campaigns infect computers?
Typically, cyber criminals behind malspam campaigns send emails with a file attached to them or a download link to the malicious file. Their main goal is to trick recipients into opening/executing the rogue file, which then installs malicious software.
Note that malicious documents that are opened with Microsoft Office 2010 or newer versions install malicious software only if users enable macros commands (enable editing/content). These versions include "Protected View" mode, which does not allow opened malicious documents to install malware automatically. Older versions do not include this feature and install malicious software without asking permission.
How to avoid installation of malware
To avoid malware spread via spam mail, you are strongly advised against opening suspicious or irrelevant emails, especially those with any attachments or links present within them.
Additionally, use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. Malicious programs also proliferate through untrusted download channels (e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders), illegal software activation ("cracking") tools, and fake updaters.
Therefore, only download from official/verified sources and activate and update software with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers.
To ensure device integrity and user privacy, have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept updated. Furthermore, use these programs to run regular system scans and to remove detected/potential threats.
If you have already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.
Text presented in the email:
Subject: IMPORTANT - Public Health Message| Decide whether if you want to be vaccinated - Message on 12-January-21 14:57:11 BST - Your NHS.CO.UK order #203-9320557-23482748 has been dispatched
Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination - NHS
The NHS is performing selections for coronavirus vaccination on the basis of family genetics and medical history.
You have been selected to receive a coronavirus vaccination.
NOTE: The coronavirus (COVID-19( vaccine is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against coronavirus.
Use this service to confirm your coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination.
You will need to:
* have 2 doses of the coronavirus vaccination at 2 appointments
* book both appointments at the same time
* get the 2nd dose 3 to 4 weeks after getting your 1st dose
Who can use this service
You can only use this service if you have received an e-mail/SMS regarding this invitation. You can not use this service for anyone other than yourself.
You are also free to reject this invitation, your appointment will be issued to the next person in line in that case.
Please confirm or reject your invitation by selecting an option below.
>> NHS - Accept invitation ↣
>> NHS - Reject invitation ↣
You are required to reply to this invitation within 12 hours of this notification.
Appearance of the COVID-19 Vaccination NHS email scam (GIF):
Another example of Covid-19 vaccination-themed spam email:
Text presented within:
Subject: NHS COVID-19 Vaccination appointment 08:33:58-01/27/21 #21444356857612
AS PART OF THE GOVERNMENT'S COORDINATED RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS, NHS IS PERFORMING SELECTIONS FOR CORONAVIRUS VACCINATION ON THE BASIS OF FAMILY GENETICS AND MEDICAL HISTORY.
YOU HAV EBEEN SELECTED TO RECEIVE A CORONA VIRUS VACCINATION
USE THIS SERVICE TO CONFIRM/REJECT YOUR CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) VACCINATION:
NHS - ACCEPT INVITATION > >
NHS - DECLINE INVITATION > >
IT THEN GOES ON TO SAY:
YOU CAN ONLY USE THIS SERVICE IF I HAVE RECEIVED AN EMAIL/SMS REGARDING THIS INVITATION. YOU CAN NOT USE THIS SERVICE FOR ANYONE OTHER THAN YOURSELF. YOU ARE ALSO FREE TO REJECT THIS INVITATION, YOUR APPOINTMENT WILL BE ISSUED TO THE NEXT PERSON IN LINE IN THAT CASE.
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is COVID-19 vaccination NHS spam?
- Types of malicious emails.
- How to spot a malicious email?
- What to do if you fell for an email scam?
Types of malicious emails:
Most commonly, cybercriminals use deceptive emails to trick Internet users into giving away their sensitive private information, for example, login information for various online services, email accounts, or online banking information.
Such attacks are called phishing. In a phishing attack, cybercriminals usually send an email message with some popular service logo (for example, Microsoft, DHL, Amazon, Netflix), create urgency (wrong shipping address, expired password, etc.), and place a link which they hope their potential victims will click on.
After clicking the link presented in such email message, victims are redirected to a fake website that looks identical or extremely similar to the original one. Victims are then asked to enter their password, credit card details, or some other information that gets stolen by cybercriminals.
Emails with Malicious Attachments
Another popular attack vector is email spam with malicious attachments that infect users' computers with malware. Malicious attachments usually carry trojans that are capable of stealing passwords, banking information, and other sensitive information.
In such attacks, cybercriminals' main goal is to trick their potential victims into opening an infected email attachment. To achieve this goal, email messages usually talk about recently received invoices, faxes, or voice messages.
If a potential victim falls for the lure and opens the attachment, their computers get infected, and cybercriminals can collect a lot of sensitive information.
While it's a more complicated method to steal personal information (spam filters and antivirus programs usually detect such attempts), if successful, cybercriminals can get a much wider array of data and can collect information for a long period of time.
This is a type of phishing. In this case, users receive an email claiming that a cybercriminal could access the webcam of the potential victim and has a video recording of one's masturbation.
To get rid of the video, victims are asked to pay a ransom (usually using Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency). Nevertheless, all of these claims are false - users who receive such emails should ignore and delete them.
How to spot a malicious email?
While cyber criminals try to make their lure emails look trustworthy, here are some things that you should look for when trying to spot a phishing email:
- Check the sender's ("from") email address: Hover your mouse over the "from" address and check if it's legitimate. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft, be sure to check if the email address is @microsoft.com and not something suspicious like @m1crosoft.com, @microsfot.com, @account-security-noreply.com, etc.
- Check for generic greetings: If the greeting in the email is "Dear user", "Dear @youremail.com", "Dear valued customer", this should raise suspiciousness. Most commonly, companies call you by your name. Lack of this information could signal a phishing attempt.
- Check the links in the email: Hover your mouse over the link presented in the email, if the link that appears seems suspicious, don't click it. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft and the link in the email shows that it will go to firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0... you shouldn't trust it. It's best not to click any links in the emails but to visit the company website that sent you the email in the first place.
- Don't blindly trust email attachments: Most commonly, legitimate companies will ask you to log in to their website and to view any documents there; if you received an email with an attachment, it's a good idea to scan it with an antivirus application. Infected email attachments are a common attack vector used by cybercriminals.
To minimise the risk of opening phishing and malicious emails we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
Example of a spam email:
What to do if you fell for an email scam?
- If you clicked on a link in a phishing email and entered your password - be sure to change your password as soon as possible. Usually, cybercriminals collect stolen credentials and then sell them to other groups that use them for malicious purposes. If you change your password in a timely manner, there's a chance that criminals won't have enough time to do any damage.
- If you entered your credit card information - contact your bank as soon as possible and explain the situation. There's a good chance that you will need to cancel your compromised credit card and get a new one.
- If you see any signs of identity theft - you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission. This institution will collect information about your situation and create a personal recovery plan.
- If you opened a malicious attachment - your computer is probably infected, you should scan it with a reputable antivirus application. For this purpose, we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
- Help other Internet users - report phishing emails to Anti-Phishing Working Group, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, National Fraud Information Center and U.S. Department of Justice.