corona virus cyber attack

Before you click on that WhatsApp forward or email with Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the subject line, do make sure that it is legal and not sent by cyber crooks attempting to infect your device with malware.

At this point Coronavirus (COVID-19) in India is spreading rapidly. International public health agency ‘WHO’ has officially declared the situation a pandemic month, panic about contracting the infection has been hanging in the air for a while. This has exposed cyber crooks with the opportunity to spam internet users with messages/emails under the presentation of health information target sensitive data.

Cyber crooks have been attracting Indian users with WhatsApp and email messages that have malware embedded in it. Once clicked on it, the malicious malware gets on a victim’s computer/phone and gives cyber crooks access to information such as passwords, bank details, etc. As per the cyber security experts one such malware has been linked to hackers backed by North Korea. Few such cases have been observed by the cyber security companies across India.

whatsapp picture

Subex, a Bangalore –based telecom analytics firm, tracked down a malicious email dated 11th March that was sent to India. According to them, the sent email contained a variant of the ransomware called Locky.

Now, what is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to encrypt documents and information on a victim’s computer system or computer files, so the victim cannot access the documents anymore until ransom money is paid to the hacker to restore access.

The email which was sent to India looks like it is from WHO (World Health Organization) sent by a Tim Hardley, principal healthcare officer from WHO’s regional office. But interestingly, Google search shows up no results for such a WHO official.

important corona virus update

The above email accurately says that the WHO’s director-general asks users to download the attached document. And the document is supposed to be signed and sent back in stipulated time so that the WHO can provide healthcare support, including a free healthcare kit. Interestingly, the email address does look suspicious –, whereas an authentic WHO email address as per the organization’s website ends with ‘’.

Subex has found suspicious documents in other emails with names such as ‘Corona_health_update.pdf’ (attributed to centers for disease control) and ‘Origin-of-corona_cnn.mp4’(spread using instant messaging platforms).[Source of Information: The Print]

Subex also tracked down WhatsApp messages infected with malware that include content on COVID-19.

According to cyber security companies in India, it is time to stay safe, stay cautious while using popular chat applications like WhatsApp and emails with Coronavirus in the subject line!

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