Beware: these coronavirus apps can steal your money and data

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The coronavirus has become a complete seam for cybercriminals. For months, they have been exploiting the interest generated by the pandemic to deceive users. This is demonstrated, for example, by the recent study, carried out by Check Point, which shows the increase in malicious websites that, supposedly, offer information about the pandemic. Or the awareness campaign that the Police and the Civil Guard are carrying out through social networks to combat cyber-scams via email and WhatsApp. Now, the cybersecurity company ESET has alerted to several malicious applications for «smartphones» with Android operating system in which, apparently, information about the Covid-19 is offered.

“Since late January, cybercriminals have been struggling to exploit the coronavirus. We have already seen it in various ways. Now we have found several applications that are also spreading by taking advantage of the virus. On paper, they offer maps where you can see the evolution of the pandemic. There are also some in which cybercriminals affirm that advice is given about the disease and others in which it is directly impersonated by official organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), “says Josep Albors, head of awareness and research at ESET Spain.

From the cybersecurity firm, they express, through a statement, that these malicious applications are intended for Android devices and specifically intended to attack Spanish users. For its part, Albors points out that, once the user downloads them to the «smartphone», they do not carry out any of the actions that, in principle, they promised. On the contrary, the first thing they do is ask for money: «For example, when they download and open them, the“ apps ”tell the user things like if they want to know the people who are infected with them, they must pay 0, 75 euros. Then they will ask for your credit card details to steal them. And they are not going to take away those pennies that in principle they were asking you, they are going to take away your entire account ». To steal the victim’s money, some of the criminals behind these applications use the Cerberus banking Trojan. A “malware” (computer virus) that first appeared in June last year.

On the other hand, the expert highlights that none of the applications can be downloaded through the Android store. Rather, they are found on malicious web pages. To get the victim to download them, criminals accompany them with the Google Play Store logo. In turn, from ESET they point out that, in case the user runs the risk and installs any of these «apps», his bank details will not be the only ones at risk. «The main risk is the theft of bank details. But criminals, thanks to the permissions they are granted when starting the download, can take away other personal data. Some of the apps we’ve discovered can even access the device and steal the contact list, SMS for the double-factor verification system, “says Albors.

So as not to fall into the trap
Seeing the increase in threats on the network related to coronavirus, experts recommend taking extreme precautions when making any download on the internet. Regarding applications, they must always be installed through official online stores, such as the Play Store and the Apple Store. Also, as always, it is important to pay attention to the permissions they request: «To protect yourself from attacks related to coronavirus, the most important thing is that users only resort to official sources. There are many malicious apps and people who just want to get rich at the expense of others’ despair. On the other hand, when installing “apps” on the mobile or downloading documents, you have to be suspicious, “says Albors. .


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