Scammers use fake coronavirus apps to target individuals

Hackers steal more than $31 million from Russia's central bank
Posted at 8:40 AM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 09:40:18-04

As state and federal officials continue to sound the alarm about the potential dangers of COVID-19, some scammers are already preying on peoples' fear to try and extort them.

A recent article in Forbes explained how hackers suspected to be in Libya are using a fraudulent app promising to track coronavirus cases in your area to spy on the victims who download it.

A different write up, by Domain Tools, spotlighted a similar app that, once downloaded, allows hackers to lock up your phone and demand money in exchange for unlocking it.

"Many times, even if you pay, they don't give you the code to unlock the device anyway," said Jonathan Arnold, an IT instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

He said it's not surprising such scams have emerged in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

"You're going to see a really large spike in malware and scams related to the coronavirus," Arnold said.

In the phone locking scam, Arnold explained how hackers can ensure personal data and information on your phone: such as photos, documents, contacts, and passwords, all become locked away and inaccessible.

So, he said it's always important to be careful about what you're downloading and installing.

Arnold recommended only downloading apps from licensed stores like the Apple App Store, or Google Play.

He said watch out for things like "spelling errors, grammatical errors, and website addresses that don't add up" as indicators that an app is fraudulent.

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