List of fraudulent domains related to COVID-19 used for scams

A few days ago it was reported the finding of some fraudulent websites whose operators were trying to take advantage of coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak. Now, various malware reverse engineering firms and specialists have reported that the creation of these fraudulent sites has increased to unusual levels, as thousands of websites related to the dreaded disease are brought online every day.   

Among the fraud variants detected on these sites are phishing schemes, delivery of malware-loaded files and even sophisticated financial fraud campaigns in which threat actors trick users into paying for alleged cures or COVID-19 treatments.

The malware reverse engineering report mentions that the first indications of fraudulent coronavirus-related campaigns appeared about a month ago, although in recent days these cybercriminals reached their highest activity levels.

Most reports relate to malware infections related to a purported Android app with real-time COVID-19 outbreak statistics. Actually, this is a variant of ransomware for mobile devices; even the UK National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) issued a security alert this week about these fraudulent online campaigns.

Over the course of the days dozens more of these sites began to be detected, then hundreds, eventually reaching thousands of new sites that include in their names terms such as coronavirus, covid, pandemic, viruses and vaccine, among others.

A malware reverse engineering researcher known as DustyFresh began tracking these sites recently, finding up to 3,600 new domains that include the term “coronavirus” only between March 14 and 18. It should be mentioned that some of these sites are legitimate, although the vast majority are scams operated by cybercriminals.

Because the researcher’s analysis focused only on searching for new domains, the number of fraudulent sites could exceed tens of thousands.

The International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) recommends that users ignore any website related to the topic that is unrelated or operated by any health authority. In addition, under no circumstances payments or purchases related to coronavirus/COVID-19 should be made, as so far there is no such thing as a vaccine to eradicate this virus.