Hackers and cybercriminals have long been known to use the big current affairs to try and ensnare their victims, and it seems the ongoing COVID-19 crisis was an opportunity too good for them to miss.

A huge number of Coronavirus-related attacks have been reported in recent weeks, using many different techniques – from phishing to retail scams.

One example was of an email that declared a Coronavirus outbreak had been reported in the recipient’s area. Of course, this is totally untrue and any unsuspecting users who click through links in the email end up downloading a trojan that is able to take over their systems, disclose login information or open a gateway for more malware to be installed.

To give these phishing attempts more credibility, hackers make it appear as though the email has come from official government sources, or even the World Health Organisation, to make victims that bit more likely to click.

Other cyber criminals have been more direct in their action, simply offering face masks for sale but only going so far as to take victims’ money. Ten reports have already been made regarding dodgy sellers, with one victim losing more than £15,000.

This hasn’t just been online either. Door-to-door salesmen have cropped up in the UK purporting to sell Coronavirus testing kits at a significant cost. These are, however, complete duds.

Action Fraud has received 105 reports of Coronavirus-related scams in less than two months, with victims having collectively lost in the region of £1 million.

Explaining why current affairs prove such a draw for cybercriminals, manager of offensive security at Outpost24, Hugo van den Toorn, told The Sun: “To increase the likelihood of phishing campaigns working, criminals often change the modus operandi and scenarios based on events such as public holidays, tax filing deadlines, political situations and apparently the outbreak of a deadly virus.

“Criminals will do anything to increase the odds of the phishing attack succeeding.”