Cybercriminals exploiting public fear of rising coronavirus cases

Agencies
March 15, 2020

Cybercriminals continue to exploit public fear of rising coronavirus cases through malware and phishing emails in the guise of content coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US and World Health Organisation (WHO), says cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.

In the APAC region, Kaspersky has detected 93 coronavirus-related malware in Bangladesh, 53 in the Philippines, 40 in China, 23 in Vietnam, 22 in India and 20 in Malaysia. 

Single-digit detections were monitored in Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Myanmar, and Thailand. 

Along with the consistent increase of 2019 coronavirus cases comes the incessant techniques cybercriminals are using to prey on public panic amidst the global epidemic, the company said in a statement. 

Kaspersky also detected emails offering products such as masks, and then the topic became more commonly used in Nigerian spam emails. Researchers also found scam emails with phishing links and malicious attachments.

One of the latest spam campaigns mimics the World Health Organisation (WHO), showing how cybercriminals recognise and are capitalising on the important role WHO has in providing trustworthy information about the coronavirus.

"We would encourage companies to be particularly vigilant at this time, and ensure employees who are working at home exercise caution. 

"Businesses should communicate clearly with workers to ensure they are aware of the risks, and do everything they can to secure remote access for those self-isolating or working from home," commented David Emm, principal security researcher.

Some malicious files are spread via email. 

For example, an Excel file distributed via email under the guise of a list of coronavirus victims allegedly sent from the World Health Organisation (WHO) was, in fact, a Trojan-Downloader, which secretly downloads and installs another malicious file. 

This second file was a Trojan-Spy designed to gather various data, including passwords, from the infected device and send it to the attacker.

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Agencies
January 15,2021

California, Jan 15: Facebook has sued two developers in Portugal for scraping user-profiles and other data from its website.

Using the business name "Oink and Stuff," the defendants developed browser extensions and made them available on the Chrome store.

"They misled users into installing the extensions with a privacy policy that claimed they did not collect any personal information," said Jessica Romero, Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation at Facebook.

Four of their extensions -- Web for Instagram plus DM, Blue Messenger, Emoji keyboard and Green Messenger -- were malicious and contained hidden computer code that functioned like spyware.

When people installed these extensions on their browsers, they were installing concealed code designed to scrape their information from the Facebook website, but also information from the users' browsers unrelated to Facebook -- all without their knowledge.

"If the user visited the Facebook website, the browser extensions were programmed to scrape their name, user ID, gender, relationship status, age group and other information related to their account," Romero said in a statement on Thursday.

The defendants did not compromise Facebook's security systems. Instead, they used the extensions on the users' devices to collect information.

"We are seeking a permanent injunction against defendants and demanding that they delete all Facebook data in their possession," she mentioned.

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Agencies
January 12,2021

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Washington, Jan 12: Facebook, Google and Microsoft have announced that they were freezing political contributions from their political action committees (PAC) in the wake of the January 6 riot in the US Capitol by President Donald Trump's supporters.

"Following last week's awful violence in D.C., we are pausing all of our PAC contributions for at least the current quarter, while we review our policies," Xinhua news agency quoted Facebook spokesman Andy Stone as saying in a statement on Monday.

Alphabet Inc's Google said it would pause contributions from its PAC.

"We have frozen all NetPAC political contributions while we review and reassess its policies following last week's deeply troubling events," a Google spokesperson said.

Microsoft said the company is halting its political spending until after it assesses the implications of last week's events.

"The PAC regularly pauses its donations in the first quarter of a new Congress, but it will take additional steps this year to consider these recent events and consult with employees," the company said in a statement.

Also on Monday night, Amazon announced that it will pause donations from its PAC to lawmakers who voted against the certification of the presidential election results.

"We intend to discuss our concerns directly with those Members we have previously supported and will evaluate their responses as we consider future PAC contributions," an Amazon spokeswoman said in a statement.

The attack on the Capitol building took place on January 6 while Congress was in session considering the ratification of the electoral college votes electing Joe Biden as President and Kamala Harris as Vice President.

Before the violence, Trump, who has claimed that their election was invalid because there was massive fraud, told a rally of his supporters before the Congress session began to go there.

A section of his supporters stormed the Capital and invaded the Senate chamber and the offices of the Speaker and others, bring the session to a halt and evacuating the legislators to safe places.

Five people, including a police officer, were killed during the riots.

Congress met later and put its seal on the election of Biden and Harris, who will be sworn-in on January 20.

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Agencies
January 14,2021

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Madurai, Jan 14: The renowned bull taming event “Jallikattu” began in Tamil Nadu with traditional fervour and enthusiasm at Avaniyapuram in this district on Thursday.

Minister for Cooperation Sellur K Raju and District Collector T Anbalagan flagged off the event at 0800 hours that will go on till 1600 hours.

It is the first officially permitted Jallikattu event organized as part of the ongoing Pongal festivities in the state.

Official sources said, around 430 tamers and 830 registered bulls were participating in the day-long event.

Former AICC President Rahul Gandhi will watch the Avaniyapuram Jallikattu today -- in what is scheduled to be his first visit to the state ahead of this year’s assembly election as part of the party’s “Rahulin Tamizh Vanakkam” initiative.

Mr Gandhi, who will arrive by a special flight at Madurai from New Delhi this afternoon, will drive straight to the venue.

After witnessing the event for a couple of hours, he will return to the National Capital.

The Congress leader will be accompanied by TNCC president K.S.Alagiri, Congress Legislative Party Leader K.R.Ramasamy and DMK’s youth wing secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin and others. Around 2,000 policemen were deployed at the Jallikattu venue under the direct supervision of Commissioner of Police Prem Anand Sinha.

The Jallikattu event is being conducted by ensuring compliance with the COVID-19 safety norms.

Arrangements have been made in the spectators’ gallery to ensure personal distancing. The spectators were allowed after undergoing thermal screening and wearing face masks.

The Palamedu Jallikattu will be held on Friday.

Chief Minister Edappadi K.Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O.Panneerselvam will witness the World-renowned Alanganallur Jallikattu event here on Saturday.

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