Hackers are spreading malware through coronavirus maps

Coronavirus Map
(Image credit: John Hopkins University)

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has disrupted business operations across the globe but cybercriminals are showing no signs of slowing down as they attempt to capitalize on people's fears surrounding the virus.

Back in January, hackers used the coronavirus to launch email campaigns that infected users with malware and now they've begun to use coronavirus maps to do so as well. 

Many organizations including John Hopkins University have created dashboards to keep track of the spread of the coronavirus and many people rely on these dashboards to stay up to date with the latest infection numbers. 

However, security researcher at Reason Labs, Shai Alfasi has discovered that hackers are now creating fake versions of these dashboards to steal information including user names, passwords, credit card numbers and other data stored in users' browsers.

Unlike legitimate coronavirus dashboards, these fake websites prompt users to download an application to help them stay updated on the situation. This application doesn't even need to be installed to infect a user's computer with malware. As of now, the malware only affects Windows devices but Alfasi expects that hackers will find a way to develop a new version that can infect other operating systems as well.

Fake coronavirus maps

In a blog post detailing his findings, Alfasi explained that these fake coronavirus maps are using malicious software called AZORult to infect users' machines, saying:

“The new malware activates a strain of malicious software known as AZORult. AZORult is an information stealer and was first discovered in 2016. 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.”

Identifying these fake websites is easy enough as they often have a URL or details that are different from legitimate coronavirus dashboards.

To avoid falling victim to this latest coronavirus scam, it is recommended that users only check verified dashboards such as the one from John Hopkins University for information regarding the virus.

Via The Next Web

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.