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Malicious coronavirus domains flood the web as curiosity about the virus grows

A security guard wearing a mask, responds to two guests without masks at the hotel where the two Italian tourists who tested positive for coronavirus, had stayed, in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, on Wednesday, March 4, 2020.
A security guard wearing a mask, responds to two guests without masks at the hotel where the two Italian tourists who tested positive for coronavirus, had stayed, in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. (Photo by Himanshu Vyas / Hindustan Times)

Out of 4,000 coronavirus-related domains registered globally, 3% were found to be malicious and an additional 5% suspicious, say Check Point security researchers.

Coronavirus is the new pick for the cybercriminals. With the virus spreading and affecting people around the world, cybercriminals are looking to exploit users' curiosity on the web. According to a new Check Point report, malicious rate of the coronavirus-related domains is 50% higher than the overall rate of all domains registered at the same time period. The rate is much higher than the seasonal themes such as Valentine's Day, the report added.

"Since January 2020, based on Check Point Threat Intelligence, there have been over 4,000 coronavirus-related domains registered globally. Out of these websites, 3% were found to be malicious and an additional 5% are suspicious. Coronavirus- related domains are 50% more likely to be malicious than other domains registered at the same period, and also higher than recent seasonal themes such as Valentine's day," said the study.

The security firm said that many domains were aimed at phishing. It also pointed out that some websites are trying to scam users in the name of selling face masks, vaccines, home tests that can detect the coronavirus.

Many of these domains will probably be used for phishing.
Many of these domains will probably be used for phishing. (Checkpoint)

Researchers also identified a widespread coronavirus-themed phishing campaign targeted at Italian users. Italy is one of the worst affected nations by the virus.

 

"…a widespread targeted coronavirus themed phishing campaign was recently spotted targeting Italian organizations, hitting over 10% of all organizations in Italy with the aim of exploiting concerns over the growing cluster of infections in the country," according to the report.

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The phishing emails aim to lure recipient to download a malicious document. The fake email is signed off by a doctor from World Health Organization (WHO) based in Italy.

"Due to the number of cases of coronavirus infection that have been documented in your area, the World Health Organization has prepared a document that includes all the necessary precautions against coronavirus infection. We strongly recommend that you read the document attached to this message," reads the email.

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