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Fake coronavirus warning emails could infect your computer

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Fearmongering scammers are using the coronavirus crisis to install dangerous malware onto computers.

Fearmongering scammers are using the coronavirus crisis to install dangerous malware onto computers.

Unsuspecting victims are sent an email warning coronavirus has been discovered in their local area, with a file attached regarding infection prevention measures.

Cyber security experts warn the attached file contains a dangerous type of malware campaign capable of stealing banking logins, financial data, and even emptying cryptocurrency wallets.

The coronavirus as seen under a microscope.

Known as Emotet, the trojan is attached under the guise of pdf, mp4 and docx files.

Users who open the document are infected with the malware, which can go undetected by antivirus software.

Increasing the likelihood of further infection, emotet can also forward itself to every email contact of a victim, meaning recipients may feel safe to click on any links or documents as they appear to have come from a trusted contact.

Numerous different iterations of the email have been discovered by cyber security firms IBM X-Force and Kaspersky, with the emails being sent in several different languages.

Experts warn it's "quite common for threat actors to exploit basic human emotions such as fear – especially if a global event has already caused terror and panic".

"What makes these attacks rather special, is the fact that they deliver the Emotet trojan, which has shown increased activity recently," IBM X-Force wrote in a statement.

Kaspersky malware analyst Anton Ivanov said the cyber security company had found 10 different files containing malicious content but expected this number to grow.

"As people continue to be worried for their health, we may see more and more malware hidden inside fake documents about the coronavirus being spread," he said.

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In October, the national Cyber Incident Management Arrangements (CIMA) increased the threat of emotet to a "Level 3: Alert".

The CIMA helps coordinate the government's response to national cyber incidents, with incidents ranging from "Level 5: Normal Conditions" to "Level 1: National Cyber Crisis".

Level 3 falls under the "significant cyber incident" category as it can have "major impact" to services, information, assets and government reputation.

It has since been returned to level 5, although the latest coronavirus attacks could see this changed.

Experts said people should avoid clicking suspicious links and should examine the extension of the attached file. 

"Documents and video files must not have an .exe or .lnk format," Mr Ivanov explained.

"If you want to obtain reliable and legitimate information, go to the official sources."

Source: 9News

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