In recent weeks our expert Threat Intelligence analysts at AdaptiveMobile Security have seen the rise of SMS spam attacks relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. These SMS Spam attacks are using the fear around the COVID-19 worldwide emergency try to defraud vulnerable mobile phone subscribers. Given the scale of the COVID-19 outbreak, AdaptiveMobile Security wants to prevent spammers exploiting those fears for their own gain.
We are sharing our intelligence from the US on the volumes of COVID-19-related spam complaints we are seeing. We show the geographical breakdown of the incidences of the COVID-19-related SMS spam. Also, to help educate the public, we are sharing examples of the types of SMS spam in circulation.
You can download the complete data set, which features daily updates in the percentage of COVID-19-related SMS Spam complaints that our threat intelligence experts are analysing in the United States. By downloading this data, you are agreeing to cite AdaptiveMobile Security as your reference source for any and all reproduction of the data.All data CSV
Below shows the distribution of COVID-19 related SMS spam complaints, for each State (US). The heat map shows the geo-breakdown of amount of COVID-19 related SMS spam expressed as a % of total SMS Spam complaints we see in those regions. As explained in a previous blog article we use complaints about spam as a rough proxy for overall actual SMS spam volumes. The darker the colour, the higher the number of COVID-19 SMS spam complaints
Geographic assignment to States is generated from the areacode information of the aggregated SMS spam target subscriber numbers (complaint reporters). This is not the actual location of the target number, but the state in which the target number is registered. For more information on using numbering plan information for geographic assignment see our our articles on visualising spam
A bold demand for clicks; this message contains a link and nothing else. It's not quite believable that an official government website would be hosted for free on the website builder wix.com. The explanatory text may be accurate, but submitting personal details through this site is unlikely to bring a stimulus check.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is a real programme; not so this scam message. Though the grammar is bad, the recipient may be taken in by the presence of their own phone number in the message. Following the link provides a multiple choice of fake online bank pages to steal your banking credentials.
(CERB) ls here again for the other $2000.00 (CAD) that you haven't get yet to "778xxxxxxx",
This spam message shares an unconvincing link but with some ‘urgency’ included in an attempt to encourage engagement and click through. The link ultimately directs the subscriber to a gift card promotion.
Josh, your stimulus is pending your acceptance. Must accept by 04.12 http://4-1day.com/7XXcwu
This is a rudimentary data-gathering site created on the free website builder weebly. Despite alleging to be a site for US citizens to apply for stimulus checks, the form asks for the applicant’s country. The site also gathers personal information such as name, address, marital status, email address. Once you submit the data you are alerted that they will email you back.
Coronavirus stimulus checks apply online via this website https://coronaviruspayment.XXXX.com
Our advice to consumers is to be constantly vigilant. Do not click through on any links in SMS messages that you feel may be suspicious or respond to unsolicited messages. In the US you can report these spam messages to your carrier by forwarding the message to the phone number 7726. This helps the carrier (and us) identify and block more of these types of messages in the future.
For correct COVID-19 information, our recommendation is to rely on official sources such as the WHO or your country’s official government websites for medical information, COVID-19 financial supports, health and travel advisories. Like a pandemic, these types of messages often target and hurt the most vulnerable people in our society. Let’s stop the spread of COVID-19 SMS spam.
For mobile network operators, CPaaS providers and messaging aggregators requiring more information on preventing SMS spam on their network please contact the Adaptive Mobile Security Sales Team below: