As we speak, the world is reeling from one of the worst cases of viral infection in recent history. Thus, it is a bit troubling that anyone would want to exploit the desperate situation that we all find ourselves in, to create further harm, or confusion. But that is exactly what cybercriminals are doing with the coronavirus.
They are now taking advantage of people’s heightened interest in news related to the outbreak to send emails that are laden with malware. Clicking links within these emails downloads malicious software such as worms, ransomware, and spyware onto the victim’s computers.
These coronavirus-themed malware entities are spreading fast and they pose real cybersecurity threats because of the novelty that goes into their distribution and targeting. Most of the victims of these sickening campaigns do not even know what hit them until it is too late. They often have to bear huge financial damages following successful infiltration.
An example of a coronavirus-themed malware attack happened in Japan in the months of January and February. Cybercriminals started sending out emails that supposedly came from a Japanese disability welfare service provider, except that these emails and their attachments were infected with the Emotet Trojan, which happens to be one of the most notorious Trojans at the moment.
The Emotet malware was originally created in 2014 and used to infiltrate banks and steal confidential information. The malware has since evolved from its primary purpose and is now mostly used as a loader for other malware. Emotet is very effective at this because it uses worm-like activities to spread from one computer to the other virtually undetected.
While phishing campaigns are the primary means through which coronavirus-themed malware such as Emotet are being spread, they are not the only ones. Many fake websites with the word coronavirus have also been popping up everywhere and they also serve as a conduit for spreading all sorts of malicious malware.
To evade coronavirus-themed malware, you need to stay vigilant at all times against the tricks that cybercriminals are likely to use to lure you into downloading the virus onto your computer. Here are a few tips that might prove helpful along the way:
- Verify the authenticity of news items related to the coronavirus
No matter what country you are from, there is always that reliable news source that at least most people trust. And while it is likely that you will get news about the coronavirus from elsewhere, ask yourself how many times news about something comes to you by email, especially if you have not subscribed to a service. If it seems odd to you, it most likely is.
- If you work in an organization where you share work stations with several of your colleagues, notify them of the coronavirus-themed malware
If you share an office with some folks, it is a hopeless situation if the entire office doesn’t take the same security precautions to protect each other against malware attacks. That’s why sharing information is essential to keeping everyone safe. Tell everyone about the coronavirus-themed malware. Point them to this article if you must, but please don’t keep quiet.
- Watch out for over dramatic headings
If you receive an email with dramatic news headings, it is most likely fake. It is unlikely that anyone will have the time to announce the end of days with via email.
- Purchase a premium antivirus solution
Do you have an anti-malware solution installed on your computer? If not, you need to download one ASAP. Anti-malware solutions such as Outbyte Antivirus will detect infiltration attempts by the likes of the Emotet virus and stop them in their tracks. It is your best bet against malware threats.
- Take a closer look at emails and domains for spelling mistakes
Likely, all the domains bearing the name coronavirus are already taken by legitimate organizations such as WHO and the UN. Cybercriminals thus have to do with what’s left and this makes it easy to weed out fake domain names because of the many spelling mistakes on their fake domains.
- Update all the software on your computer
Do you run the latest version of software on your computer? If not, you need to because malware exploit vulnerabilities on apps that have not been patched with the latest security patches. Start with your OS, then browsers, and continue that way till all of the apps that you commonly use are updated.
- Stop relying on pirated software
Do you get your software from sites such as The Pirate Bay? If that is the case, then you need to stop. Malware can be bundled together with pirated software creating the real danger of making such software a constant source of infection on your computer.
That will be all about the coronavirus-themed malware. If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, feel free to ask them in the comment section below.
A Computer Engineer by degree and a writer by profession, Cathy Trimidal writes for Software Tested and Outbyte. For years now, she has contributed articles focusing on the trends in IT, VPN, web apps, SEO, and digital marketing. Although she spends most of her days living in a virtual realm, she still finds time to satisfy her infinite list of interests.