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Corona Virus Infecting Our Devices Too

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The impacts of the corona virus are starting to extend beyond just biological infections. The global media storm around the spread of the virus is causing infections to spread on electronic devices too. Cyber criminals are using the fear surrounding the outbreak, to spread malware and ransomware causing everyday people and businesses to fall victim to financial fraud, loss of data, identity theft and the theft of our personal data.

Cyber criminals are using the topic as click-bait to encourage people to click on malicious attachments or links in emails. Word documents, PDFs and MP4 files sent via email seem to be the main vehicle used at present for the delivery a computer virus known as ‘Emotet’ onto people’s devices. Emotet is a ‘banking trojan’ and used by cyber criminals to steal your financial data and sensitive personal information.

We expect that the types of attack will diversify from attachments in emails, to links in text messages and maybe even malicious phone calls (known as social engineering). We also expect the number and variety of malicious payloads (viruses) to broaden too as more cyber criminals jump on this particular band wagon of woe. Phishing campaigns have started off in Asia but we also expect these campaigns are being translated into European and English languages at this very moment for distribution across Europe, the Americas and other English speaking nations.

 

How Can You Keep Your Devices Infection Free?

1. Be wary of any email, text message or phone call where corona virus protection instructions or asking for charitable donations. Ensure you’re sourcing protection guidance from well established official sources, such as the NHS, BBC or World Health Organisation. If you’re a business, it’s well worth sending out a phishing email test around the corona virus to increase awareness amongst your employees.

2. Know the two key ways to spot a phishing (fake) email. You can expect emails to look like they come from reputable organisations, like the NHS, UK government or GP clinic. You must be sure that any emails or texts you receive are actually from these sources. Follow the steps below to validate the origins of a particular message. The best two methods involve using your mouse (cursor) to investigate the senders email address and the inevitable attachment or link that'll be contained in the email;

  • Is there an attachment or link? Any attachment or link that often has a generic name, e.g. "Invoice February 2017" should ring alarm bells. Never click on the attachments or links as these are designed to deliver malicious software to your device! Instead, for links take your mouse and hover over the link or button (without clicking on it!) and it'll display the real destination of the website it's taking you to. If it isn't official looking (amazon.co.uk) like shopping9-amazon.co.uk then steer clear! If you're still unsure about the link, go to urlvoid.com which will check if its malicious or not! For attachments, right click on it and use your anti-virus software to scan it for viruses.
  • Who is the sender? Similar to investigating suspicious links using your mouse, we can do the same with the sender's email address. When we hover our cursor over it, it'll reveal the actual email address (which may be different to the one being displayed to us). If it does then delete it straight away!

3. Ensure you have anti-virus software installed on all your devices. All devices except iOS devices (iPhones and iPads) need anti-virus software installed – Bitdefender or Avast provide very solid products.

4. Belt and Braces (optional). The Emotet virus (identified as part of these initial Japanese phishing campaigns) leverages ‘worm-like’ capabilities which means, in simple language, it can evade detection by many anti-malware products. As such, you may wish to run an advanced ‘one-off’ malware scanner such as Malwarebytes to double check your devices are indeed infection-free.

Got questions? Ask our experts in our forum!

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