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Hackers are using fake coronavirus maps to steal user data; what you should do


By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

Published: March 13, 2020 3:03:04 pm


coronavirus, coronavirus track on map, coronavirus news, coronavirus cases, coronavirus application, track coronavirus Screengrab of Coronavirus tracking tool. ( Representation image: gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com)

From the time World Health Organisation (WHO) declared coronavirus a pandemic people can’t help but track cases and countries most affected. Most people are using coronavirus maps to track the spread of the deadly virus. Several such maps are available online but you must only use the verified ones as hackers are creating fake coronavirus dashboards to infect personal devices and steal user data.

A security researcher Shai Alfasi at Reason Labs discovered that hackers are using these coronavirus dashboards to inject malware into user’s personal computers and steal information such as user passwords, card details, and others stored in the browser. Alfasi said that right now hackers are targeting Windows devices only but could soon come up with ways to attack other devices.

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He further clarified that hackers are mostly using malicious software called AZORult to execute this method and inject user’s personal devices with malware. The software was first created in 2006 with the aim to steal data from the user computer and infect it. “It is used to steal browsing history, cookies, ID/passwords, cryptocurrency and more. It can also download additional malware onto infected machines. AZORult is commonly sold on Russian underground forums for the purpose of collecting sensitive data from an infected computer,” Alfasi said.

What should you do?

  • You must first ensure to use only verified coronavirus dashboard as several non-verified and fake ones are available online as well.
  • Some times it could be difficult to differentiate between the verified and the fake maps. Check the URL of the fake dashboards as it will be different from the original one. It could include spelling errors and a different font style.
  • Ensure to check the developers of the dashboard first.
  • Check the maps closely as it will look and function differently when compared to verified or original maps.

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Beginning this month Check Point research reported that domains related to coronavirus are 50 per cent more likely to install malware in the device when compared to others. Meanwhile, several fake apps claiming to provide ways to protect from COVID-19 have also been removed from Google Play store.

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In this crisis when several coronavirus cases are being reported from across the world, it is important for everyone to track and know what’s happening around. But, it is equally important to safeguard your personal data. Always ensure to first verify the coronavirus dashboards you’re using and avoid getting hacked.

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Updated: March 13, 2020 — 9:44 am

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