By Andrew Kinder, Security Operations Manager

Whilst some of us have turned to baking banana bread, trying to learn a new language or just online quiz sessions, criminals have spent their time in lockdown trying to come up with new ways to trick us into sharing our personal details online. Across the globe, information security teams, including ours here in Co-op, have seen a barrage of phishing e-mails linked to coronavirus. These emails are typically sent by criminals to lure people into providing personal information or banking details, which they use for their own financial gain.

Phishing scams work best when people are tempted to open the e-mails and click on any links. The scammers know this and tend to theme their campaigns around topics that are currently in the news.  Whereas last year we saw a lot of Brexit themed e-mails, this is the year of Covid-19 and coronavirus.

The Co-op’s Information Security team are fully aware of this and are constantly on the lookout for any suspicious Covid-19 related e-mails and take swift action where necessary.

Some of the most popular scams we’ve seen include:

  • People trying to sell items that are in high-demand, such as face masks, hand sanitiser, or even puppies (seems like everyone has a Cockerpoo at the moment!)
  • Fake emails claiming to be from charities or organisations like the NHS, asking for money to help fund their activities during this time
  • Emails and texts pretending to be from the government – often asking for your card details to send you “Covid-19 relief” money, or to pay a “fine” for breaking quarantine rules

REMEMBER – all these scams are similar to ones we’ve seen time and time before, these are just using the current news to hook us in.

The best way to protect yourself and your family is to learn how to spot and report these suspicious emails. In October and November, we release our annual information security training for colleagues, which includes a whole section on how to spot phishing emails. Look out for the new module on your MyLearning account.

If you’re ever sent a suspicious message to your Co-op email account, send it straight to spam@coop.co.uk, so that our Information Security Team can check whether it’s safe.