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Coronavirus maps could be giving your computer a nasty infection too

Coronavirus maps could be giving your computer a nasty infection too
(Image credit: Johns Hopkins University)

As if a global pandemic wasn’t bad enough, it looks like computer hackers are taking advantage of the coronavirus outbreak to spread malware through help sites and outbreak tracking maps. While most people’s computers are protected by the best antivirus software these days, that doesn’t mean that you’re completely immune to these malicious attacks, especially when they are disguised as helpful sources like coronavirus infection maps.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, many organisations have started creating web hubs and resource centers to help educate people about the virus and how to avoid infection. Johns Hopkins University in the UK has created a dynamic map which shows cases of coronavirus by location. It’s worth checking out, even if it does look a bit like a video game.

Unfortunately, hackers are now setting up fake versions of these dashboards and interactive maps to spread malware into people’s computers. These fake versions of the coronavirus help sites will ask users to download an application to proceed, or to keep them updated. We’d advise that you only visit websites that you trust, such as those from government and medical agencies like the CDC and WHO. There are some telltale signs that a website might not be legitimate that you should look out for. The most obvious thing to look for is the URL address, which will be different from the official websites.

Malware uncovered

This latest round of attacks from malware spreading hackers was discovered by Shai Alfasi, a security researcher at Reason Labs. In a blog post, Reason states that this new malware activates a malicious software called AZORult, which steals information including browsing history, cookies, username and passwords, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and more.

As always, we’d recommend you take all possible precautions when visiting websites that you’re not familiar with. Make sure you have the best antivirus software installed on your computer and consider signing up to the best VPN service to help keep you safe from tracking software.