In an attempt to block misinformation from being spread by developers taking advantage of the COVID-19 charged environment, Google started prevention by blocking any search made for terms “COVID-19” and “coronavirus” on Google Play Store. It identified certain developers’ malicious intent of exploiting user’s concerns regarding the new coronavirus. As of now, Google’s attempt to block searches has yielded positive results with the search for the aforementioned keywords returns no results at all on the Play Store.
Once you are out of the Play Store searching for the same, considering the installation of third-party apps, it becomes a matter of great concern as developers are embedding ransomware in apps named after the new coronavirus to delude uninformed users.
Recently, DomainTools, a Threat Intelligence company found an app known as “CovidLock” that is ransomware in the facade of ‘coronavirus tracking app’. The app will appear to be a real-time tracker for the coronavirus but it will function as a malware that will lock the user out of his phone and ask for a ransom of $100 in bitcoin within a time period of 48 hours. If the affected user fails to provide the demanded ransom in the given time, he receives threats of his social media accounts being exposed online and the data stored onto his device being permanently deleted. It further notifies that his device is constantly monitored and in case he attempts to do anything stupid, everything will be automatically deleted.
However, a piece of good news is that the new mobile devices are secured against such attacks as Google has added defense against it. But in cases of users running versions older than Android Nougat, there are chances of their device being infected by this malware. To stay on a safer side, users are being advised to stick to the Google Play Store when downloading apps. Turning to unauthorized third-party sources invites great danger to user security especially at a time when our concerns and fears can be exploited and used against us.