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March 15, 2020

Cybercriminals exploiting public fear of rising coronavirus cases

Agencies

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.

Cybercriminals exploiting public fear of rising coronavirus cases

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