Coronavirus Themed Scams and Lies You Should Know 0 784

Scams demanding bitcoin on pain of infecting you with the coronavirus gain their fair share of shine among schemes with a thin veneer of plausibility

In our previous posts, we have talked much about how scammers and spammers are taking advantage of the current fear and confusion brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic to rip off unsuspecting victims. 

However, several ransomware gangs have now resorted to alternative tricks to stay afloat as folks are catching up with them. As an example, some of them are faking conscience by publicly announcing that they will avoid targeting healthcare providers within this pandemic period.

In the same vein, the heightened interest and round the clock bulletin of the pandemic across the globe isn’t making things better. Even the most slothful and unimaginative wannabe cybercriminals have been awakened, and now repackaging other’s or own shysterism and scams in COVID-19 wrappers. 

In this post, we provide you a few more Coronavirus associated scams that might come your way. Let’s dive in!

Blackmail threats

The use of blackmail in an attempt to coerce innocent victims to cough up some money isn’t something new among online fraudsters. Our sextortion scams post shows how a scammer can threaten you with “dire” consequences if you don’t pony up some specified amount of money (mostly in the form of bitcoins) to a provided address—for instance, leaking out a video of you watching porn to your list of contacts. 

Now, what happens when a global pandemic such as the COVID-19 disease strays into a sextortionist scope?

 The example below, perhaps?

Figure 1. Sextortion scam threatening embarrassment plus coronavirus infection for nonpayment

As we can see from the example, the threat goes beyond your typical sextortionist’s threat; it incorporates something current (COVID-19 pandemic).

However, in an amateurish way as it can’t convince a sensible soul. For instance, how the heck are they going to infect your family with the Coronavirus? Simply unrealistic, right?

Another interesting thing about the email is the tactical pairing of passwords gotten from publicly leaked account compromises so as to appear authentic.

Better still, the fraudsters have randomly replaced some of the characters in the message with Unicode homoglyphs (similar characters).

The second figure below highlights the replacements to show you how the scammers carefully selected the homoglyphs in order to convince you.

Figure 2. The same message with Unicode homoglyph replacements highlighted

If you ever receive such a scam mail threatening to infect you and your family with the virus, don’t even give it a second thought.

Those behind it are a bunch of clueless scumbags who don’t even have a clue regarding where to obtain appropriate COVID-19 samples, leave alone how to weaponize and deliver them. 

Plain dumb scams

Just like the previous illogical email, you may also be surprised to get an even dumber version.

For example, take a look at the following mail:

Figure 3. “I hate you, give me money” extortion scam

Not only were the composers lazy but also dumb or ignorant. As an example, how is the threat going to be carried out? 

Will the supposedly infected neighbor sneak out of their home in the dead of the night and cough on your exterior door handles or letterbox?

This is an example of some of the weirdest emails you may probably get from some low-life, dumb, lazy, or ignorant scumbags who don’t even have an idea about their kind of trade. 

For instance, the message doesn’t even state the required amount of money, due date, or any other conditions whatsoever.

Probably, the person behind such a scam is betting on a handful of scared recipients who will voluntarily give in to their demands.

Final thoughts

A closer check at the provided bitcoin addresses in the examples alongside others in similar online scams (by our team) indicates that neither of them had received any substantial payments. For example, one of them had transacted a single bitcoin payment whose amount equated to a measly US$0.04.

This shows how not so well thought out scams can be; however, they have the potential of spreading more fear and worry, especially at this particular time of heightened concern, which can cause more damage.

Therefore, instantly delete such emails or similar ones in case they hit your inbox. Otherwise, if you need more advice regarding this type of scams, among other consultations, then ESET has been here for you for over 30 years. We want to assure you that we will be here in order to protect your online activities during these uncertain times, too.

Protect yourself from threats to your security online with an extended trial of our award-winning software.

Try our extended 90-day trial for free.

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Coronavirus con artists continue to thrive 0 808

Man working on laptop

The scam machine shows no signs of slowing down, as fraudsters continue to dispense bogus health advice, peddle fake testing kits and issue malware-laced purchase orders

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate, more companies are now shifting to remote work as a way of containing the spread of the disease. Similarly, lockdowns and travel bans, among other stringent measures, have become the order of the day across several nations. And to worsen the situation, there is a massive shortage of the required medical kits.

Such a crisis provides fraudsters undue advantage over a vulnerable lot that is financially destabilized, as well as emotionally drained as a result of the pandemic. 

In this case, you would likely receive fake updates regarding the pandemic, as well as non-existent offers for personal protective equipment, among others. Likewise, if you’re a business, you would certainly receive faux purchase orders and payment information.

Fortunately, as a follow up to our previous article about the ways scammers are exploiting coronavirus fears, we provide you with a few examples of the new campaigns aimed at stealing your money or personal information. To enable you to keep your guard up. Shall we?

Fake news/information

As the virus continues to escalate, more people are currently searching for practical information on how they can protect themselves. As a result, scammers have conveniently positioned themselves as the true COVID-19 information “crusaders” by impersonating well-known health organizations, such as the World health organization.

Don’t act surprised if you receive an email (containing an attachment) supposedly coming from a reputable health organization offering you “vital information” on how you can protect yourself from the disease.

For instance, our research team identified one such file containing a Trojan designed to steal personal credentials.

Apart from the WHO, fraudsters are also impersonating the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Accordingly, the FBI has given a warning about scummy emails mainly riddled with malware-infested attachments and links purporting to originate from the CDC.

 To reduce the number of people falling for such schemes, the WHO shares examples of its official email addresses and methods of communication on its website.

Urgent purchase orders and late payments

Owing to the increased pressure from governments to reduce the spread of the virus, Companies, as well as factories, have been forced to streamline their operations according to the current situation. As an example, companies to integrate work from home modules, while factories to either increase or reduce their production capacities depending on their products.

Such erratic changes have brought about a climate of uncertainty that offers fraudsters a thriving environment.

In this case, as a factory owner or executive, be on the lookout for “urgent purchase orders” from “company representatives.” Since this fake orders come from scammers who want to make a kill out of your desperation of making some revenue before things go south.

Sadly, if you download such “urgent orders” (usually in attachments), your PC will be installed with malicious code designed to steal your details.

Below is an excellent example of such an “urgent order”:

Similarly, you would receive a “proof of payment” for you to take care of the order. However, like the last example above, instead of receiving a bank statement, the attached document contains a Trojan injector.

High demand products

A massive increase in demand compounded with an inadequate supply for essential protective items, such face masks has created another avenue for scams.

A typical example of such a scam involves a fraudulent site that is offering “OxyBreath Pro” face masks at a reduced price. These can lure you since there is a shortage of masks, and what is available is highly-priced.

However, if you click on the provided links, you’ll be at risk of exposing your sensitive personal information to the scammers.

Bogus testing gear

The unavailability or short supply of medical kits for testing folks for the virus has also attracted fraudsters in droves.

For instance, the existent low supply of masks, respirators, and hand sanitizers, among other necessities, has prompted scammers to impersonate medical officials.  So that, they can provide non-existent or fake COVID-19 test kits, as well as illegitimate “corona cures.”

As an illustration, more than 2000, links associated with fake coronavirus products have already been identified. Similarly, law enforcement bureaus alongside other relevant bodies have been able to seize US$ 13 million worth of potentially hazardous pharmaceuticals.

To contain these despicable actions, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings that it hasn’t allowed the sale or purchase of coronavirus self-testing kits; therefore, it is currently bursting such sellers.

Final thoughts

In a wrap, what we have shared is a representative of the many current fraudulent campaigns doing rounds in our media spaces due to the prevailing situation.

Thus, it is critical to maintaining high alertness to avoid falling victim to both the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the ensuing scam epidemic escalating through the internet. To keep yourself safe from the scams, you can practice the following basics:

  1. Avoid downloading files or clicking on links from unknown sources
  2. Never fall for unrealistic offers or order goods from unverified suppliers. You may also make a point of checking out the purported vendor’s reviews
  3. Invest in an excellent endpoint solution which can shield you from phishing attacks, as well as other forms of scams
  4. If an email suggests coming from a reputable organization, double-check with the firm’s website to confirm its authenticity

If you require consultation, as well as endpoint solutions for your cybersecurity needs, then ESET has been here for you for over 30 years. We want to assure you that we will be here to protect your online activities during these uncertain times, too.

Protect yourself from threats to your security online with an extended trial of our award-winning software.

Try our extended 90-day trial for free.

How To Easily Set Up a VPN at Home 0 816

Woman working at home

As the COVID-19 pandemic has many organizations switching employees to remote work, a virtual private network is essential for countering the increased security risks

Probably, you have been forced to work from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak (recommended to reduce the spread of the virus). However, you are wondering how you will set up your VPN to enable secure communication.

Well, don’t agonize too much; we shall first explain to you what a VPN entails. And then, provide you with a step by step procedure for setting a basic Virtual Private Network. Here we go!

First, what is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

Essentially, a VPN is a private channel within a wider (open) network that enables you to communicate with your peers (other nodes with similar settings) without leaking your information through the use of encryption.

Besides, you can utilize a VPN to initiate communication through any network without revealing your location. In any case, a significant number of vendors deal with clients needing such services to avoid being tracked or be able to bypass particular network filters. 

However, in our case, we shall consider a home office VPN that will create a communication tunnel for your practical and secure home office communication.

Is it necessary to set up a virtual private network?

For there to be any communication between two endpoints ─ your pc and the computer in the main office –, they must be configured.

In this case, you’ll require the services of your IT department (if you have one), who will guide you regarding the applications to install, as well as provide you with VPN credentials depending on your needs. Upon installing and configuring the said app, you can automatically establish communication through the provided link. Easy-peasy, right?

On the other hand, if you don’t have an IT department behind your back, then you may have to do it yourself. These shouldn’t; however, scare you at all; it’s not as tough as you might imagine.

But before we explore the nitty-gritty of setting up the VPN, we first need to identify the options we have. In our case, we shall examine two options:

  • Open VPN: standard in small office/home office and business-class routers
  • IP Sec: Is Built-in and commonly used by desktops, smartphones, and laptops

The Open Virtual Private Network

This type of VPN has been around for a long time and has proved itself secure and reliable. It is ideal for small office/ house offices, as well as business-class routers, thanks to its open-source nature.

Procedure for installation

  1. On a contemporary device, go to the router’s configuration screen and click the relevant buttons to access your office network
  2. Download the configuration file generated by the router
  3. Use this file to configure/setup the OpenVPN in your pc, smartphone, or desktop that you want to use to access the Network behind that particular router. In case you get stuck somewhere, you can download or follow an online tutorial for your specific router.
  4. Download the required apps that will enable you to access your new home office VPN from this website.
  5. Install the downloaded applications and then configure them using the files generated when setting up the Open VPN on your office router.

In the event you find the going tough, you can always consult with an online tutorial or IT personnel.

Internet Protocol Security

IPsec is also another technology that has been in use for an extended period to provide reasonable security. It utilizes the same working principles as the OpenVPN; however, it is mostly used on lower-cost routers. Besides, it is a built-in technology in most desktops, laptops, and smartphones; therefore, it eliminates the need for installing another application on your device.

The installation process is similar to that one of OpenVPN. However, implementing a particular router IPsec can sometimes be a little more complicated compared to installing an open VPN.

Fortunately, with the use of native tools on your remote endpoints, you can offset this by just typing in a few things, such as the required IP address and credentials.

Final thoughts

Conclusively, these are some of the simplest virtual net protection options you can install on your home system without requiring massive/no input from IT experts.

Importantly, you will need a beefier than standard broadband for quick communication over the VPN. Also, you may experience slower connections due to the much horsepower required to keep the connection encrypted and tunneled. Nevertheless, this is a small price to pay in exchange for a secure home office communication.

In case you required any advice regarding VPN options or installation services, then ESET has been here for you for over 30 years. We want to assure you that we will be here to protect your online activities during these uncertain times, too.

Protect yourself from threats to your security online with an extended trial of our award-winning software.

Try our extended 90-days trial for free.