More people than ever before are teleworking.  Schools are closed.  Events are cancelled.  Live sports are cancelled.  Restaurants in many areas are closed.  So, what are a lot of people doing?  They are reading the news.  And a lot of them are looking for the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak.

And scammers know this.  So in this time of heightened vulnerability, please be safe…not just physically, but also technologically.

For example, there is a dangerous coronavirus map link/website that is being circulated, pretending to offer information on the spread of the virus, but in reality installs malware on victims’ computers.  The malware, AZORult, steals user information, largely credential-based (including browsing history, cookies, ID/passwords, cryptocurrency information)and uses this for targeting other cites, contacts, financial platforms, and enterprises.  AZORult also acts as a download of other malware.  A variant of this malware was also able to create a new, hidden administrator account on a machine to set a registry key to establish a Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connection.

There is also a dangerous application that promises to provide users with a Coronavirus map tracker and statistical information, as well as a real-time screen lock alert when a known COVID-19 patient is nearby, but the application instead provides a “CovidLock” ransomware, which locks users’ devices and demands a $100 Bitcoin payment within 48 hours.  It threatens users that do not provide the bitcoin payment with a total erasure of the device’s data.

There are many, many other scams, as well.  Everything from fake emails, where when you download attachments a Trojan downloader is installed on your computer (exposing your computer to software that steals your credentials and data, and spies on you) to malware-laced texts that install malware on your iPhone when you click on a link, stealing your information and credentials. Also, because so many interactions will now be virtual, expect a bloom in Business Email Compromise and “Man-in-the-middle” scams.

The best way to avoid COVID-scammers is to exercise rigorous information hygiene. Only download applications offered from the Apple App Store and Android Play Store; visit only known, official websites; do not click on links in suspicious texts and emails; and do not download files from suspicious emails.  Wherever possible, follow existing payment protocols and require multiple confirmations from known persons by telephone. Also, if something looks suspicious, search the Internet based on a description of what you are seeing (often times you will find out information on a scam that way), or if it purports to be from a legitimate source, call the source and ask about it before you click.

Stay safe.