CYFIRMA, threat discovery and cyber intelligence platform company backed by Goldman Sachs, Zodius Capital, and Z3P Partners, has launched a report publishing their observations about change in cybercriminals’ approach and attitude towards taking advantage of the current COVID-19 pandemic for financial gains.
CYFIRMA researchers observed that hackers are cognizant to the dangers of putting millions of lives at risk as families of those who have been infected by the COVID-19 virus would likely be desperately seeking a medical remedy. Any news of a vaccine availability could also send masses of people into a state of frenzy and cause major turmoil across many societies.
While hackers and scammers have been leveraging the pandemic to push out malware and phishing emails as part of their cyber- attack campaigns to steal data from businesses and consumers, or to cause social unrest amongst various communities, there has been an understanding amongst hackers groups to not ‘cross the line of humanity’ by selling fictitious vaccines.
A market place in the Dark Web called Monopoly has the restricted sale of fake vaccines for COVID 19 on their platform. While they sell all sorts of illicit stuff. And the ‘founder’ of the marketplace wrote a post, ’Any vendor caught flogging goods as a cure to Coronavirus will not only be permanently removed from this market but should be avoided like the Spanish Flu’. The forum post also stated the gravity of the pandemic and asked sellers not to use the crisis as a marketing tool.
However, there is a group of hackers who have ignored this warning and are choosing to sell fake vaccine and making anywhere from $99 to $25000. According to Cyfirma report, the hackers are from North Korean and have got interest from Italy, Spain, France and the US. Payment is being made via bitcoin, few bitcoin accounts have collected on tune of $400K just within last 6 days.
The obvious fallout of this malicious act is the loss of money by the users but in order to get the vaccine, they have shared their Personal identifiable information including health and social security details. The theft of personal information will also fetch additional financial gains for hackers. Cyfirma predicts that personal information provided to buy fake vaccine could be used for the next wave of cyberattacks.
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Vishal Chawla is a senior tech journalist at Analytics India Magazine and writes about AI, data analytics, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and blockchain. Vishal also hosts AIM's video podcast called Simulated Reality- featuring tech leaders, AI experts, and innovative startups of India.