Coronavirus did not just bring panic with it, but also a wave of scams such as phishing attacks, that are looking to exploit public fears. The virus is now spreading fear in the digital world too, with scammers using it as a bait for cyber crimes. E-mails – purportedly from renowned health organizations like WHO, UN, and ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research), or even corporates – along with websites, messages and apps are being used to steal crucial information.
As of 23 July, there are 1,250,000 confirmed cases in India. As the number of people who want to know about the virus are increasing, the information available online is also on the rise. A lot of people are sharing news, articles, videos etc related to the virus to create awareness. However, scammers are using this technique to loot innocent people.
This is done with lures of various offers and discounts and freebies on products or listing of safety measures against the virus, and updated information on COVID-19. Mails are also being used to sell various medical products like N-95 masks at a lower rates, vaccines and COVID-19 testing kits. Meanwhile the social media scammers are attracting users to fundraising initiatives for victims of COVID-19 or are inviting investments in companies that are helping fight the virus.
For theft of information, the modus operandi is simple, either a malware is dropped on the device via links and attachments in the mail or ransomware is circulated as a part of mobile application – Quick heal labs.
The malware can access your mail and banking passwords and credit card related information. It can even track your typing strokes and access crucial data. When the computer or mobile device becomes infected with the malware, user can lose confidential data or money since malware gives scammers access to both. Since many people are working from home, the probability to get scammed is even higher now.
As per a report, since January 2020 more than 4000 coronavirus related domains have been registered globally. Out of these, 3% websites were found to be malicious and an additional 5% are suspicious. Coronavirus domains are 50% more likely to be malicious than other domains registered at the same period