A few days ago, a renowned IT security services firm reported the finding of Coronavirus Tracker, an Android app that allegedly contained real-time information about new coronavirus/COVID19 outbreaks. Dubbed as “CovidLock”, this app is actually a variant of ransomware for mobile devices. In exchange for restoring access to the smartphone, hackers demanded a ransom of $100 USD in Bitcoin.
Even though multiple users fell into the trap, it’s not all bad news. In less than a week, ESET security firm researchers analyzed the code of this malicious app and managed to extract the encryption key, since it was embedded within the app code (a practice known as hard coding).
“ALERT: If you installed the malicious app Coronavirus Tracker, which locks your smartphone and demands a ransom, use the code “4865083501” to regain access. The key is in hard code”, mentions the ESET announcement.
Users infected with the CovidLock ransomware should only enter code 4865083501 to regain access to their locked device without paying the ransom to hackers, as mentioned by IT security services specialists.
One factor that limited the scope of this app is that it was not available on the Google Play Store, but had to be downloaded from a third-party site, so there are relatively few users who got infected with CovidLock. However, the decryption key discovered by researchers is completely functional for each case of infection.
In addition, malicious activity was reported to Android and the cryptocurrency address employed by cybercriminals is being monitored by specialists IT security services firms.
The International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) mentions that, due to the coronavirus outbreak, threat actors continue to increase their bid to deploy malware and use other attack variants related to this issue. Currently, a user is 50% more at risk of exposure to some variant of cyberattack by browsing a website related to coronavirus, so it is recommended to exercise caution when searching for information about the virus outbreak.
He is a well-known expert in mobile security and malware analysis. He studied Computer Science at NYU and started working as a cyber security analyst in 2003. He is actively working as an anti-malware expert. He also worked for security companies like Kaspersky Lab. His everyday job includes researching about new malware and cyber security incidents. Also he has deep level of knowledge in mobile security and mobile vulnerabilities.