The deadly Corona Virus outbreak which originated from bats has killed almost 362 people at this point and infected more than 17,300, as it continues to spread beyond China like wildfire. Almost, all countries now have confirmed cases of the virus with no end in sight. However, the threat is not just limited to the humans who come into contact with the virus.
A new virus has been detected and it’s infecting devices worldwide at more or less the same rate as the Coronavirus. Interestingly enough, this digital virus arrived with emails meant to educate about the precautionary measures relating to the deadly virus.
An Evolving Threat
At this point, people around the world are panicking due to the virus becoming an unstoppable threat, so much so, they are unable to see the immediate threat only a click away. The threat appeared in the Japanese areas of Gifu, Osaka, and Tottori, where it was detected for the very first time by IBM X Force threat intelligence.
How the malware disguises itself
The malware-laden emails arrived as official notifications from the public health watchdogs such as WHO and contained MS Office attachments with subject lines mentioning precautions against the virus and instructions on how to protect oneself.
Unfortunately, the attachments were actually macros scripts created by Emotet Trojan, a notorious company that experts in malware that aim to highjack computers and extract personal and financial data about the person including web browsing history, credentials, sensitive documents, and bank account details.
This is not the first time such a thing has happened, previously Emotet tried to spread malware using invitation emails to join Greta Thunberg at a climate change protest. Another cybersecurity company, Kaspersky, also detected similar activity in other areas of the world. The difference being that they encountered emails containing video attachments regarding protective measures against the virus, updates on the virus and even techniques regarding coronavirus detection.
How the virus affects your computer
Tempted by the possible instructions and updates they might get regarding the whole corona situation people open up the MS Office, mp4 and pdf files included in the spam emails. The victims are then asked to ‘enable content’ in order to view the full contents. By hitting the ‘enable’ button the person in fact enables the virus to creep into the computer system and highjack all sorts of different information which is packed and sent to the attacker’s controlled storage servers.
Kaspersky reported that the video files even followed a different path of attacking the recipient victim’s computer as it contains trojans and worms having the ability to destroy, block, modify and copy data, in addition to interference in the operations of the system as well as computer networks. A malware analyst at Kaspersky named Anton Ivanov reported said that “The coronavirus, which is being widely discussed as a major news story, has already been used as bait by cybercriminals.
So far, we have seen only 10 unique files, but as this sort of activity often happens with popular media topics we expect this tendency may grow. As people continue to be worried about their health, we may see more and more malware hidden inside fake documents about the coronavirus spreading.
Be careful folks and do not open email attachments from suspicious sources!