Published: March 20, 2020 on our newsletter Security Fraud News & Alerts Newsletter.
Of course, we are all obsessed with the COVID-19 virus these days. We can’t avoid hearing about it unless we just shut off the televisions and radios and we may even have to stick our heads in the sand. However, many of us are diligently watching various websites and the virus outbreak maps that are provided by various organizations to keep us all up to date on how the virus is spreading and the damage it’s causing. However, cybercriminals are in the know and are taking advantage of this. There are now numerous fake coronavirus maps that spread malware to your device.
Earlier in the year, hackers used spam email messages to spread malware. Now, they’re taking over our interest in the maps and doing versions of their own. Researchers at Reason Labs discovered some that are stealing names, passwords, payment card data, and other information that is stored in browsers.
Let’s start with storing information in your browser. Just avoid that altogether, especially payment card details. It’s a little more inconvenient to enter it every time you want to make a purchase, but if you don’t have it stored, it’ll save you a lot of headache should someone go looking for it and fail. In addition, saving it in online retail sites is also a risk. Remember that if someone gets into those retailers’ sites, they can get access to your information.
Legitimate coronavirus dashboards and maps don’t prompt you to enter information. The fakes ones do. So if you pull one up and it’s asking for details or login credentials, find another one. There are several organizations out there doing real ones including John Hopkins University, USA Today, and other legitimate organizations. There is plenty of information on the websites of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The researcher found that the fake sites are often using malware called AZORult to infect machines. It’s a good bet that others are being used too. But this one is an information stealer, first found in 2016. And that’s exactly what it does.
When looking for COVID-19 information, check the URLs of websites. If they don’t look legitimate or they look odd in any way, skip them and check out the ones you know are safe. Stick with names you know like known universities and news organizations. And always be extra cautious clicking on links and attachments in email messages and from social media during times of high stress events.
As always, make sure you have antivirus software installed and that it’s kept updated at all times.
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