Netizens urged to be vigilant against coronavirus scams

MUSCAT: The Ministry of Technology and Communications, represented by the Oman National Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) – the Sultanate’s principal vanguard against cyber threats – is urging Internet and mobile users to beware of online criminals attempting to steal their personal and sensitive data on the pretext of offering updates on the coronavirus pandemic.
In an advisory tweeted earlier this week, the Ministry warned that bad actors operating online are exploiting public interest and concern over the pandemic to bait unsuspecting netizens into accessing suspect sites or downloading malware with potentially harmful consequences.
“In light of the coronavirus (Covid-19) spread, we would like to bring to your attention that some information pirates may take advantage of you by sharing links to fake news, or to malicious software/viruses in order to collect your personal data. You shouldn’t view any such links/attachments from untrusted sources,” the Ministry noted in its post.
According to cyber experts, an upsurge in the global demand for up-to-date information on the pandemic, in terms of its spread, measures taken by countries to contain the outbreak, drug treatments and vaccine developments, and so on, has spawned the growth of online fraudsters and thieves looking for easy victims.
Leading international cybersecurity solutions provider Kaspersky recently announced that it has uncovered malicious files disguised as PDF, mp4 and word documents purported to provide information on the coronavirus. But in reality, they contained Trojans, worms and other harmful code with the potential to destroy, block, modify, copy and even exfiltrate personal information.
Likewise, Mimecast — an international firm offering cloud-based email management services — said its researchers had stumbled upon a phishing email that encourages recipients to open an attached document providing useful information on measures to prevent exposure to the virus. But as with all phishing emails, the message was simply a ploy to get Net users to share their private and confidential data.