Skip to main content




Got an email about the Wuhan coronavirus? It could be a computer virus

Got an email about the Wuhan coronavirus? It could be a computer virus

A woman is seen wearing a protective face mask at Orchard Road, Singapore on Jan 28. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

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. 

The World Health Organization had said earlier on Friday that the outbreak is now an international emergency, following China's announcement that the death toll had topped 200

READ: Wuhan coronavirus in Singapore - What we know about the confirmed cases

READ: Singapore to widen travel restrictions to all new visitors who recently travelled to mainland China

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. 

READ: Singaporean evacuated from Wuhan among country's 3 new cases of coronavirus, total now 16

"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. 

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage on the Wuhan coronavirus and its developments

"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.

Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the Wuhan virus outbreak: 

Source: CNA/hs(hm)


Also worth reading