Hackers exploiting widespread fear of the Coronavirus outbreak to spread malware

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on February 01, 2020

Hackers are now targeting the widespread fear of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak to spread malware.

Multiple studies over the past week have found that hackers are spreading malware disguised as emails from welfare organisations, containing important notifications or instructions to fight the malware.

IBM security’s X-force initially discovered a similar campaign targeted at Japan. Users were sent emails disguised as official emails from welfare organisations, informing the public about the outbreak.

The text would usually contain notification about the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in specific prefectures with a word document, IBM had reported.

The document, in reality, is a Microsoft Office 365 file that contained macros script to install the Emotet Trojan malware in the device.

Emotet is a popular malware that is used to steal financial information by injecting a compromised code into the networking stack of the targeted Microsoft Windows device.

In a different instance, cyber-security company Kaspersky recently published a report detailing how hackers were using the coronavirus outbreak to spread different kinds of malware through PDF, MP4 and DOCX files about the virus.

The files were a part of emails sent under the guise of official notifications from public health centres informing the public of preventive measures against the outbreak.

In reality, these files contained cyber threats ranging from Trojans to worms. The malware can destroy, block, edit, copy or delete data from the targeted computer network.

Recently, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have tried to implement measures in order to protect the public from misinformation regarding the outbreak.

The novel coronavirus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Till date, over 10,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported worldwide. The virus has claimed 213 lives in China alone.


Published on February 01, 2020

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