COVID-19 brought on many unexpected consequences, including what some are calling the cyber pandemic. Cybersecurity threats soared to all new highs last year and continue to increase as many professionals move to remote work and Americans increase their online presence in an attempt to social distance.

A New Threat

Now, cybercriminals have their eye on a new prize – stimulus checks.

This past week, the House of Representatives approved of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package previously passed in the Senate, sending it to the President’s desk to be passed into law.

But even as Americans wonder when they might receive their promised $1,400 checks, cybercriminals are on the move.

Reports show phishing emails have been sent out regarding the newest stimulus package. One fraudulent email told recipients to apply for their stimulus check and to download an Excel sheet, which launched a malicious software, Dridex, that steals personal banking information and other login credentials.

The fraudulent email messages using the COVID-19 American Rescue Plan as bait target the infosec and technology sectors while employing subject lines ranging from “Joe Biden Rescue Plan Act” to “IRS Rescue Plan Form” to “President’s Rescue Plan Act.” Each message features a sender display purporting to be the IRS American Rescue Plan Department.

“Pandemic-themed attacks remain ever-present, and we’ve never observed such a convergence around a single social engineering lure for such an extended time,” Sherrod DeGrippo, Proofpoint senior director for threat research and detection, wrote in the report. “These campaigns transcend borders, languages and industries.”

A Better Way

These threats are not slowing down, and cybercriminals are getting smarter as they search for ways to trap even the most warry of internet users. One important step to help protect yourself from cybercriminals is credit and identity theft monitoring. Working with a monitoring service helps bring you alerts for suspicious activity. You can also receive identity theft insurance and identity restoration assistance, giving you peace of mind if you’re target by a cybercriminal. Make sure to get credit and identity protection.