“They’re exploiting the fear, uncertainty and doubt people are experiencing during the pandemic, and using the anxiety and desperation to get people to buy things or click on things they wouldn’t have otherwise,” says Morgan Wright, a former senior adviser to the US Department of State anti-terrorism assistance programme.
He’s talking about the scammers and criminals that inhabit the “dark web” who have found a new angle – anxiety over Covid-19.
Mr Wright, who is now chief security adviser at security software company SentinelOne, used to teach behavioural analysts at the US National Security Agency (NSA) about the exploitation of human behaviour.
He is now seeing some of those techniques being used on the dark web, an encrypted part of the internet that can be accessed using popular networks such as Tor.
The Tor browser is privacy-focused, meaning it can obscure who is using it and what data is being accessed. It offers bad actors a way to operate with a degree of impunity, as law enforcement find it much more difficult to track down criminals that use it.