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Fake antivirus site promises coronavirus protection, delivers trojan

Researchers at Malwarebytes have warned of an increasing volume of scam sites exploiting the Covid-19 coronavirus

A fraudulent website that claims to offer a digital antivirus program that protects users against the Covid-19 coronavirus has been found online, tricking its victims into downloading a remote access trojan, or Rat, that turns the target computer into a bot.

The site in question is just one of a number of scam websites that have been newly identified by Malwarebytes, and more are popping up all the time, as cyber criminals try out any means to cash in on what is becoming, by some margin, one of the most dangerous and widespread cyber security threats in history.

“Scammers and malware authors are taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis in full swing. We have seen a number of spam campaigns using Covid-19 as a lure to trick people into installing a variety of malware, but especially data stealers,” said the Malwarebytes threat intelligence team in a blog post disclosing its latest research.

“As more of us work from home, the need to secure your computer, especially if you are connecting to your company’s network, becomes more important. However, you should be extra careful of bogus security software, especially if it tries to use the coronavirus as a selling point.”

It should go without saying that no cyber security antivirus product could possibly provide protection against an actual biological virus. However, those responsible for the scam – to which we are not linking – have almost certainly already ensnared numerous victims and will be counting on stressed and emotional people being more likely to fall for the trick.

Fake website offering protection against the coronavirus

The website (pictured) states: “Our scientists from Harvard University have been working on a special AI development to combat the virus using a windows app. Your PC actively protects you against the Coronaviruses (Cov) while the app is running.”

If a user is unfortunate enough to install the application, they will find themselves infected by the BlackNET Rat, giving cyber criminals the ability to access the target machine from a command and control (C2) server.

BlackNET enables cyber criminals to co-opt the target machine into a botnet to conduct distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, to take screenshots, to steal Firefox cookies, to steal saved passwords, to implement a keylogger, to remotely execute other malicious scripts, and to steal bitcoin wallets if present. Malwarebytes said the full source code for this particular toolkit has been circulating on GitHub for at least a month.

“Users should be extra careful of bogus security software, especially if it tries to use the coronavirus as a selling point”
Malwarebytes threat intelligence team

In this instance, Malwarebytes was able to work with CloudFlare, whose service was being abused to deliver the malicious website. CloudFlare has now taken action to flag the website as a phishing scam.

“During this period, it is important to stay safe both at home and online. The number of scams we have seen during these past few weeks shows that criminals will take advantage of any situation, no matter how dire it is,” the researchers said.

“We recommend that you keep your computer up to date and use extra caution when downloading new programs. Beware of instant notifications and other messages, even if they appear to come from friends.”

More information, including further screengrabs and indicators of compromise (IoCs), can be found on the Malwarebytes website.

Read more about the coronavirus’s impact on cyber security

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