Hackers Use Coronavirus to Exploit Human Nature

As expected, hackers are taking advantage of people and companies during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past, hackers used real-world events to prompt people to click links or open malicious email by sparking concern or a need in order to remain healthy or safe. Generally, human nature is to investigate worrisome issues or find out if some event affects or impacts them. Common ploys relate to credit cards or bank statements, but health scares, tax season, and terrorist activity have all been used to get people to click.

Now, the malicious activity is hidden in seemingly harmless maps. People all over the world are looking at information related to COVID-19, and hackers know it. One popular piece of data comes in the form of a map that shows the spread of the coronavirus globally. Hackers are injecting malicious code into the dashboards and maps themselves so that the code executes in the background while people view the map. This code steals information from the browser; histories, payment information, usernames and passwords, and any other data they can pull from your browser.

According to Reason Labs’ Shai Alfasi, the hackers are using malicious software that originated in 2016 and can serve as a gateway to allow other malware onto your computers.

What can you do to prevent being hacked?

The first method of prevention is to keep real-time antivirus installed and running, as well as keeping virus definitions up to date. Keep your operating systems and browsers patched. Next would be to only access coronavirus information from trusted sources such as the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and John Hopkins University  Be wary of any site that specifically names the virus in the address unless it comes at the end of the address. An address of coronavirus.info may seem harmless but may contain malware and other bad info, while https://hub.jhu.edu/novel-coronavirus-information/ is a legitimate, trustable website.

Third, be sure to back up your computers, laptops, and files regularly. Sometimes the easiest way to fix a localized (just on your computer) virus is to perform a restore from an uninfected backup, rather than spending hours trying to clean and repair the damage caused by viruses and malware. Keep the backups somewhere safe that is not on the same computer.

Education and awareness are some of the most valuable tools we, as humans, can have for any situation. We get so caught up in quickly clicking links and pop-ups that we fail to notice things before it is too late.

Be safe, stay healthy, and be sure to get your information from reputable sources!