SINGAPORE: Cyber criminals are making use of the Wuhan coronavirus situation to conduct malicious activities, the Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team (SingCERT) warned on Friday (Jan 31).
In an alert on its website, SingCERT said that such criminals would send emails and messages enticing users to open malicious attachments by offering information relating to the outbreak of the deadly virus.
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SingCERT said the malicious files could be masked under the guise of links, PDF, MP4 or Docx files with link or file names associated with the coronavirus situation, such as how to protect yourself from the virus, updates on the threat or virus detection procedures.
These files could host a range of threats from Trojans to worms, which are capable of destroying, blocking, modifying or copying data, as well as interfering with the operation of computers or computer networks, when users click on the links or open the attachments.
"In particular, there have been reports of an active Emotet malspam campaign in Japan where cyber criminals sent emails that were disguised as official notifications from disability welfare service providers and public health centres.
"These emails claimed to provide details on the preventive measures against the virus, in order to entice potential victims to open the malicious attachments in the emails," said SingCERT.
"Due to the heightened concern about the situation, it is likely that there will be more of such threat actors who will ride on the situation to conduct their malicious cyber activities," it added.
Global cybersecurity company Kaspersky also warned of the threat of cyber activities riding on coronavirus fears.
In a press release on Friday, Kaspersky malware analyst Anton Ivanov said: “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 then we expect that this tendency may 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."
Users are reminded not to click on links or open attachments found in suspicious-looking emails or messages, and should refer to official sources such as the Ministry of Health's website for the latest information on the situation, said SingCERT.
Kaspersky also recommended studying the extension of the download file - documents and video files should not be in .exe or .lnk formats.