How hackers are cashing in on coronavirus fears

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: Mar 13, 2020, 11:53 PM IST
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A look at the tricks used by hackers globally to cash in on COVID-19 fears 

Coronavirus, after sending shock waves in China, is now causing an alarming situation in many countries, including Italy, Iran, South Korea and the United States. And hackers are taking a considerable advantage of this pandemic by targetting not just individuals, but industries of hospitality, insurance, transport and manufacturing, among others. 

A look at the tricks used by hackers globally to cash in on COVID-19 fears. 

1. Fake maps

Since people are seeking constant information of the pandemic, hackers are sharing fake maps illustrating the spread of the novel virus. Once a user opens this map, their system gets infected by the malware. Hackers are spreading malicious websites which contain coronavirus maps that seem authentic, as per findings from cybersecurity firm Reason Labs, reported Tech Radar. 

Once people open these malicious websites, the malware steals data, including banking information. 

2. Spreading misinformation by quoting official channels

A group of Chinese hackers, dubbed Vicious Panda by cybersecurity officials at Check Point, an Israel-based technological organisation, are using sophisticated techniques to lure people. Recently, Washington Post reported that Vicous Panda created fake documents by the name of Mongolian health ministry which asked users to share sensitive personal information for gaining access to their devices.

Last month, researchers working with IBM revealed a spam email campaign in Japan that intended to steal data once the attachments are opened. On Thursday, cybersecurity company FireEye informed how hackers in China, North Korea and Russia are trying to take advantage of widespread fears of the outbreak

3. Coronavirus tax refund

Researchers from cyber-security firm Mimecast shed lights on this scam a few weeks ago, reported BBC. They discovered the scam in the morning and in a few hours, over 200 such cases were found, where internet users were told that they are eligible to get coronavirus refund. 

Once a user clicks on "access your funds now", they are taken to a fake government website which asks the users to share their financial and tax information.

4. Donation to fight 

Malware experts at Kaspersky first detected this where hackers send emails citing Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The mail asks users to donate in bitcoins for developing COVID-19 vaccine. Kaspersky said it detected 513 different files mentioning coronavirus that contain malware.