While the number of people affected by the coronavirus is climbing daily, it’s another form of virus that has analysts worried elsewhere.
Coronavirus-themed malware is starting to spread, according to a report by cybersecurity software company Check Point.
Several spam campaigns thematically linked to the global epidemic have emerged since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China, according to Check Point’s Global Threat Index for January 2020.
Check Point noticed a concerning number of new websites registered over the months of January and February with domain names related to the virus. They anticipated these sites would be used for phishing.
One example registered in Russia from Feb. 11 is vaccinecovid-19\.com. It claims to sell a coronavirus “detection test,” as well as publishing “news” stories and “heat maps” of the virus spread.
But it’s not just domain names to look out for. According to Check Point, the most prominent coronavirus-themed campaign has been targeting Japan via email, distributing Emotet, a Trojan type of malware that’s sitting at the top of Check Point’s list of leading offenders. Emotet works in this case by posing as a disability welfare service provider, “reporting” where the coronavirus infection is spreading in Japan and pointing recipients to a malicious email attachment, which will download malware if opened.
Check Point offered a few tips to avoid getting duped by coronavirus-themed malware, including not clicking on promotional links in emails from iffy sources, being wary of special offers (including cheap “cures” for the virus) and avoiding lookalike domains and unfamiliar email senders (check for spelling errors and weird formatting).
China on Tuesday, as per the New York Times, put the number of coronavirus cases at 72,436, with the death toll now at 1,868. At least 150 million people in China are in lockdown, facing restrictions imposed by the government as to how often they can leave their houses.
The global crisis is serious enough without themed malware involved. Be safe out there.