Online Coronavirus Scams Proliferate
We are all spending a lot more time at home now.
During this time of social distancing guidelines and self-imposed quarantine, most of the world is spending much more time online as well. The opportunity in that fact has not been lost on online scammers and hackers. A new crop of online schemes has appeared during this time of panic from the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency is aware of the possibility of increased cybercriminality and recently warned Americans that in this time of confusion and fear associated with the Coronavirus, hackers may begin to “send emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes.”
Here are some of the new dangers currently circulating around the internet that you and your loved ones should be aware of:
There is a new strain of malware known by the name of the pandemic. You Coronavirus malware, and the associated Coronavirus ransomware that is also known as CoronaVi2022 ransomware, is a file-locker that encrypts files and can overwrite the contents of your computer’s master boot record. The master boot overwrite causes your computer to lose the ability to load its operating system and your monitor will then only display a copy of the Coronavirus Ransomware’s ransom message.
So-called “Coronavirus heat maps” have seen a spike in web traffic as concerned citizens have kept an eye on the areas where infections are spiking. Hackers have been creating fake maps that have been infecting computers with a Trojan horse known as AZORult. AZORult is capable of stealing browsing history, ID/passwords, cookies, cryptocurrency and more. It also downloads additional malware later on, after it has initially compromised your system. It seems that there has been a spike in the growth of AZORult as it is easy to acquire for hackers via Russian underground sites. Infection can be prevented by visiting legitimate Coronavirus maps and dashboards like the one provided by Johns Hopkins University.
Another insidious scam is suspected to have been initiated by a Chinese hacking group known as “Vicious Panda.” They are thought to be behind a new phishing campaign specifically victimizing high-value targets in Mongolia. This is a strategy game that could easily be translated to the American market. The emails purport to contain valuable information about the Coronavirus pandemic in Mongolia. It actually contains an RTF file that has been programmed to exploit vulnerabilities in Microsoft Word Equation Editor.
These new scams have the potential to spread rapidly as we all spend more time at home and online. During this period, be on the lookout for fake downloads, phishing emails and pirated software as they all offer an opportunity for hackers to compromise your computer. A good rule of thumb is to stay away from sites that you would not normally view. Monitoring the activity of your kids and older relatives is also a good idea as we all struggle with our new “normal.”
Julio Rivera is a business and political strategist, the Editorial Director for Reactionary Times, and a political commentator and columnist. His writing, which focuses on cybersecurity and politics, has been published by websites including The Hill, Real Clear Politics, Townhall and American Thinker.
More on the Coronavirus: