The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has issued an advisory warning of a large-scale phishing campaign against Indian citizens and businesses aimed at stealing their personal and financial information.
In the advisory, issued late of Saturday, the country’s nodal agency for cybersecurity said the attackers were likely to use COVID-19 as bait while impersonating government authorities to deceive users into divulging information or downloading malicious files.
“It has been reported that malicious actors are planning a large-scale phishing attack campaign against Indian individuals and businesses [small, medium and large enterprises]. The phishing campaign is expected to use malicious emails under the pretext of local authorities in charge of dispensing government-funded COVID-19 support initiatives,” the advisory said.
It added that such emails are designed to drive recipients towards fake websites where they are deceived into downloading malicious files or entering personal and financial information.
CERT-In said the phishing campaign is expected to be designed to impersonate government agencies, departments and trade associations who have been tasked to oversee the disbursement of the government fiscal aid.
“The malicious actors are claiming to have 2 million individual/citizen email IDs and are planning to send emails with subject: free COVID-19 testing for all residents of Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Ahmedabad, enticing them to provide personal information,” it cautioned.
Further, the agency said these malicious actors were planning to spoof or create fake email IDs impersonating various authorities. “The email ID expected to be used for the phishing campaign is expected to be from email such as “firstname.lastname@example.org” and the campaign is expected to start on June 21, 2020.”
CERT-In has advised that citizens do not open attachments in unsolicited emails even if they come from people in their contact list. “...never click on a URL contained in the unsolicited email even if the link seems benign. In case of genuine URLs, close the email and go to the organisation’s website directly through the browser.”
In addition, it has asked users to beware of spelling errors in emails and websites, to not submit personal information to unknown and unfamiliar websites, to not click URLs providing special offers like winning prize, rewards or cashback offers, among other things and to encrypt and protect their sensitive document to avoid potential leakage.
It also urged people to use anti-virus tools, firewalls and filtering services and asked them to report any unusual activity or attack immediately to CERT-In.