Online scammers using COVID-19 to take advantage of Kiwis - cybersecurity expert

Kiwis are being warned to be careful of online scammers looking to capitalise on the anxiety of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cybersecurity expert Peter Bailey says he has seen fake emails claiming to be from the Ministry of Health and expects more will be on their way.

An example of a phishing attempt.
An example of a phishing attempt. Photo credit: Supplied

"With so many people looking for the latest information on COVID-19, it's an ideal time for cybercriminals to take advantage of unsuspecting Kiwis," said Bailey in a statement on Tuesday. 

"It's more important than ever to stay vigilant and look out for email phishing attempts - it an email looks dodgy it probably is."

Bailey says there are ways to avoid phishing. 

"Always check the email address to make sure the sender is who they say they are, never open any attachments or click any links unless you trust the sender."

He says if you're not sure, it's best to just delete the email.

Anyone who receives a scam email should contact CERT NZ and report it.

CERT NZ recommends ensuring people are educated in what phishing looks like.

They will use the same design and logos as the company they are impersonating making them difficult to detect. However, there are signs to watch for.

For example, the email may be addressed oddly - such as "Dear you".

It may contain poor grammar or spelling, or the name of the sender may be slightly off.

If you think you may have been targeted by a phishing email, CERT NZ recommends you delete it in the first instance.