Cyber criminals are using fear and panic over the Corona virus, or COVID-19, to steal bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies using ransomware. Besides all kinds of shady domain registrations, many Android apps have appeared. Some of them come with ransomware, locking users out of their Android phone and forcing them to pay bitcoin.
DomainTools.com discovered there’s a website called CoronaVirusApp(dot)site that prompts users to install an Android application. They promise real-time updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, but instead install a ransomware called ‘CovidLock’.
CovidLock requests access to the lock screen. Once it gains access, it blocks users from getting access to their phone. The ransomware threatens to erase contacts, photos and videos, and to leak social media account information. The Corona virus ransomware will leak and erase everything, unless a 100 dollar ransom in bitcoin has been paid within 48 hours.
Since Android Nougat has rolled out, there is protection in place against this type of attack. However, it only works if you have set a password. If you haven’t set a password on your phone to unlock the screen, you’re still vulnerable to the CovidLock ransomware.Tarik Saleh, DomainTools.com – blog post March 13th 2020
Ransomware in the rise
Since April 2019 the amount of new ransomware has seen a dramatic increase. Kaspersky believes there have been 46 thousand new modifications of encryptors.
All around the world cyber criminals have locked governments, hospitals and other major organizations out from their own computers and networks. Ransomware locks certain files, folders, computers or even entire networks. Only after a certain amount of for example bitcoin has been paid, they will unlock the computer.
Cyber criminals have been less active installing crypto mining malware on computers, instead 2019 has seen a rise in the use ransomware. According to a yearly report from the security experts at Kaspersky, mining malware infections dropped 59 percent year-over-year. In 2019 cyber criminals infected over 2.2 million computers, against 5.6 million last year.
Also published on Medium.