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Hackers are cashing in on coronavirus scare to send malware: How to stay safe

Coronavirus, Coronavirus malware, Coronavirus hackers, Coronavirus fake news, Coronavirus scam

These mails look quite legitimate as the hackers forge official mailing addresses, phone, and fax numbers of the institutions they claim they belong to. (Image: Thinkstock, Getty)

With the coronavirus outbreak in China continuing, hackers have found ways to make it serve as an enabler for their activities. Multiple instances of malicious and automated emails with a theme of coronavirus have been reported in several places.

The most prominent case of the coronavirus-themed campaign is targeted towards Japan, distributing the notorious Emotet trojan in email attachments, according to reports by Check Point Research and Quick Heal.

Check Point noted that the mails claim to be from a Japanese disability welfare service provider and have been reported in areas, where the coronavirus infection has spread. The user is tricked into opening the emails which claim to provide some official documentation about the virus, notes Check Point.

Once the victim opens these mails, which contain a document, the Emotet trojan is installed on to the victim's computer or device. These mails look quite legitimate as the hackers forge official mailing addresses, phone, and fax numbers of the institutions they claim to represent.

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As Check Point explains, Emotet is an advanced trojan that is self-propagating and modular. It was originally a banking trojan, however, it now has been modified as a distributor of other malware or malicious campaigns. It goes undetected as it uses various evasion techniques. The malware is capable of annihilating sensitive data and tampers with computers and networks meant for business and personal use.

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According to Quick Heal, the emails are written primarily in Japanese and other Asian languages, claim to be 'very urgent' and the attackers adding current dates to these emails to trick users.

Fake website for Coronavirus

Check Point out also pointed out that there a number of new websites registered with domain names related to the virus. These are likely going to be used for phishing attempts, warns the security firm. One example given is vaccinecovid-19, which was first created on February 11, 2020 and registered in Russia and claims to offer the “the best and fastest test for Coronavirus detection."

Safety tips to keep in mind 

* Open emails titled 'Coronavirus' with precaution.

* Do not download any files from such emails, whether they be in .PDF, .MP4 or .DOC.

* Carefully examine the email ID you have received the mail from.

* Look out for educational videos pertaining to coronavirus.

* Do not read such mails and fall for fake news about the virus.