Exploiting people’s fears in COVID-19 Phishing attacks.


Cybercriminals have exploited the repetitive usage of coronavirus/ COVUD -19 in search engines to create malware attacks. Email scams, phishing, fake apps and malware attacks tied to the pandemic all seem to be on the rise. Recent research from Bitdefender indicated that third-party Android app developers have begun taking advantage by using coronavirus-related keywords in their application names or descriptions.

As per Android telemetry data analysis, Bitdefender identified 579 applications that contained corona-related keywords. Most of the applications weren’t related to the coronavirus news or updates, while others contained adware or were bundled with malware or information stealers under the guise of live tracker applications.

Examples include apps imitating coronavirus information sites to spread banking trojans, and spyware disguised as coronavirus diagnosis applications.

A wide range of threats has leveraged on the coronavirus in recent weeks as:

  • Ginp banking Trojan uses information about people infected with coronavirus as bait to lure Android users into giving away credit card data
  • There has been a rise in fake apps that purport to sell coronavirus cures or face masks, or urge users to make donations for fake charities
  • A recently discovered hack targeted small-office routers to redirect users to malicious sites that pose as COVID-19 informational resources in an attempt to install Oski malware that steals passwords and cryptocurrency credentials
  • Attackers have been found abusing the names of many organizations in extortion and phishing campaigns, including the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • The findings by Bitdefender is the latest in a long list of threats piggybacking on the coronavirus pandemic.

How to protect yourself

Official marketplaces should be the main consideration in case of new apps installation. End-users should be extra more careful when they install new applications during this difficult time.

Mobile application protection

For the application providers, mobile application protection is crucial to protect the users’ information and protect the app from malware and other mobile threats.

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