Coronavirus crypto scams flourish amidst COVID-19 pandemic


Coronavirus crypto scams are mushrooming in a bid entice users due to the viral online searches related to COVID-19. As the world grapples with the pandemic Coronavirus, the scamsters in the crypto realm are hard at work too. Unfortunately, some people see profiteering opportunities even in the worst of circumstances.

As per DomainTools data, there has been a marked increase in Coronavirus-related domain registrations, and many are allegedly scams. The most likely use of these websites is to make some quick cash in the wake of rising search queries graph. Subsequently, there will be a rise in such Coronavirus crypto scams in case the pandemic persists for a few more weeks.

Coronavirus crypto scams are cashing in on the viral COVID-19 searches

Tarik Saleh, a senior security engineer at DomainTools, points out that many websites are or will be used to scam the potential users. For example, coronavirusapp[.]site claims to provide live COVID-19 updates in the user’s area. Interestingly,  users are told to download and install an Android app on their smartphones. The alleged app contains the hidden CovidLock ransomware. Furthermore, it takes over the lock screen of the user’s mobile phone, blocks access, and takes the device hostage.

Once the smartphone is entirely under ransomware control, it threatens to erase phone data, including pictures, contacts, and videos. Social media accounts of the user are also under threat. CovidLock demands a $100 ransom to release the device, and the amount has to be in Bitcoins. Saleh recommends updating your Android phone and setting up a secure lock screen password.

Stock Android Nougat offers suitable protection against such screen lock attacks. But the user has to set up a screen lock password to avail of this protection. Android users who do not have a screen lock password are susceptible to ‘CovidLock’ ransomware. DomainTools team claims that they have studied the decryption key and are close to sharing a solution to such ransomware. The alleged Bitcoin wallet is also being monitored for transactions. Till then, Coronavirus crypto scams will pose a danger to netizens.

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Gurpreet Thind

Gurpreet Thind is pursuing Masters in Electrical Engineering at University of Ottawa. His scholarly interests include IT, computer languages and cryptocurrencies. With a special interest in blockchain powered architectures, he seeks to explore the societal impact of digital currencies as finance of the future. He is passionate about learning new languages, cultures and social media.

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