- Cybersecurity researchers have identified several fake COVID-19 tracker maps that infect people's computers with malware when opened.
- The tactic is one of many ways hackers and scammers are capitalizing on people's fears about coronavirus to spread malware.
- Here's a breakdown of websites to avoid, as well as reliable coronavirus maps that are safe for tracking the spread of the virus.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
As people seek out information about the spread of COVID-19, hackers are circulating fake dashboard that purport to show maps tracking the spread of coronavirus but that actually infect people's computers with malware when opened.
People have flocked to COVID-19 dashboards maintained by media and health authorities that help track the spread of the virus as the number of confirmed cases surges past 1,000 in the US. Maps published by Johns Hopkins University or The New York Times are examples of reliable, non-malicious trackers.
The tactic starts with hackers circulating links to malicious websites disguised as COVID-19 maps, either on social media or through misleading emails. When people open the sites, they're directed to open an applet that can infect their device with AZORult, a years-old malware that steals data like login credentials and banking info.
"This technique is pretty common," Reason Labs researcher Shai Alfasi wrote in a blog post. "We will likely be seeing an increase in corona malware and corona malware variants well into the foreseeable future."
To avoid the malware, people are advised to stick to verified COVID-19 tracking maps, and to double check the URL of linked website before clicking.
It's one of many ways that hackers are capitalizing on fears surrounding the outbreak. Security researchers have warned of a rise in phishing scams in which hackers pose as health authorities offering information about COVID-19 in order to trick people to hand over their login credentials.