With the coronavirus outbreak making global headlines, the threat of another virus – of the cyber kind – looms in the distance.
Security researchers with IBM X-Force and Kaspersky recently discovered that hackers are sending spam emails disguised as legitimate information about the coronavirus. The emails actually contain malware that could infect either desktop PCs or smartphones.
USA Today reported that the emails were sent to people in Japan, claiming that the viral infection had reached the country. The emails then ask the receiver to open an email attachment to learn more about the disease, but the attachment contains software that harvests personal information saved on the device and can even infect the device with other malware.
We have observed several instances of such exploitations in the past and now detected a recent wave, motivated by the outbreak of the coronavirus in China,” IBM’s cybersecurity researchers said in their report. The researchers also noted that this approach to phishing may be more successful thanks to the fear of infection.
“Hackers will use whatever is timely to get victims to do the action required,” Marty Puranik, cybersecurity expert and CEO of data center provider Atlantic.Net, told USA Today.
IBM warned that it expects to see more malicious emails based on the coronavirus in the future as the outbreak worsens, and that the email could appear in other languages.