Like the real-life pandemic of 2020 that threatened a health crisis of epic proportions, CORONAVIRUS MALWARE is a network of malicious websites and applications that threatens computer systems across the globe. In fact, an argument can be made that the digital virus infects as many computers as the biological bomb does humans, if not more! The malware, ironically, infiltrates the systems of unsuspecting users through a number of real Coronavirus / COVID-19 themed websites that surfaced at the dawn of the outbreak.
At the time of this writing, as many as four thousand (4,000) domain names related to Coronavirus or COVID-19 have been registered around the world. This can be attributed to the tremendous surge in search queries about the ailment and what all it entails. Of the domains that actually have live websites, it is estimated that about 3% of them are malicious and another 5% suspicious. Cybersecurity firms around the world have reported a marked increase in phishing and other social engineering tactics to dupe people into introducing malware into their systems. They click or tap on links thinking they are downloading information about COVID-19, but are actually getting a lot more than what they bargained for.
In particular, hackers from North Korea, China and Russia have been carrying out targeted malware attacks by using the Coronavirus disease as a pretext. They mask their true identities by employing emails, web pages and other digital assets that appear to belong to prestigious organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Like the biological disease itself, there are no special rules for preventing Coronavirus malware. In fact, the exploits brought on by these malicious websites are usually not unique at all. The term “Coronavirus Malware” is just a descriptor for HOW these exploits are implemented, which is by users running searches with the keywords Coronavirus and COVID-19. And just like washing your hands and not touching your eyes are standard procedures for stopping the spread of real viruses, protecting your computers and devices from this collective of malicious websites can be done with the following measures:
Vet your emails and files
It makes eminent sense to not respond to emails received from unknown senders. In particular, you should certainly not downloads any files these messages may contain. If an email asks you to perform an action that you do not perform regularly, you can assume there is something wrong.
Do not order online from dubious sources
If you have to order anything online, you should do so from credible suppliers. Never click or tap on any promotional offer sent by someone you don’t know. If there is a specific supplier you want to order from, be sure to get their genuine contact information through a Google search and use those links instead.
Be wary of “magic” Coronavirus / COVID-19 cures
This rule of thumb likely has an expiration date that will go into effect once the crisis subsides. But if you receive such an offer, know that it’s fake, as at the time of this writing, there is no vaccine or cure for the Coronavirus. If you take the bait, you will probably end up accessing a page that contains malware, and the security of your device will be compromised.
Watch out For imitation websites and other assets
Malware is usually distributed from websites, emails and SMS text messages masquerading as genuine pieces of communication from sources with some degree of credibility. What gives them away is slight variations in the spellings of such emails and web addresses.
Enhance the security architecture of your devices
In times like these when there is already a considerable amount of panic and stress (as well as the fact that most people are working from home), it makes sense to gear up to meet the challenge of malware. A good antivirus (AV) product will secure all your home and mobile devices. You should also consider putting a comprehensive and holistic security architecture in place.
We’ve written about these topics at length and encourage you to check out our computer virus crash course, as well as our articles on mobile malware and virus removal tips. It was Bill Gates who once suggested that computer science was the “sister” of biology. So whenever there’s a phenomenon or epidemic in the physical world, you should immediately turn your attention to the world of Tech. You should also take the same care and precaution when making your way around the Web.