Google has been blocking about 18 million scam emails related to coronavirus per day, the company said in a blog post.
The tech giant, which is working in partnership with Apple to develop a system of contact tracing, claims it is blocking more than 100 million phishing emails a day. Over the past week, almost one-fifth of those were scams related to COVID-19.
The virus that’s a public health crisis and an economic crisis rolled into one may now be the biggest phishing topic ever, according to Silicon Valley.
“Phishing attacks always share the common trait of inciting or depending on an emotion that causes us to act more hastily or think less about our actions at that moment in time,” security researcher Scott Helme told BBC News.
“The coronavirus pandemic is a highly emotional topic right now and cyber-criminals clearly know this. They’re hoping that the typical person might be more inclined to click through links or follow bad instructions if they use this lure,” he added.
Google’s Gmail service is used by 1.5 billion people.
Some people are receiving emails that spoof official groups like the World Health Organization or other real government entities, typically to persuade them to download malicioius software or donate to a fake cause. Screen shots of COVID-19 scam emails were published on Google’s blog.
As of Monday afternoon, there were 2.4 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide. In the US, the virus has killed at least 40,931 people.
Google’s machine-learning tools are able to block more than 99.9 percent of scam emails from reaching users.