Fraudulent e-mails seek to steal bitcoins, as well as banking and identity details. Users must be alert to e-mails, websites, and applications related to the coronavirus.

Whilst people all over the world are in quarantine due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, cyber scammers do not seem to rest in their search for new victims.

According to reports, there are e-mails that request donations in Bitcoin, to supposedly fight the coronavirus on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO). Chester Wisniewski, a computer security consultant at Sophos Lab, shared a screenshot of an e-mail with fraudulent and potentially dangerous content. This text shows that cyber scammers are taking advantage of this health crisis that has been impacting the world for a few months.

Wisniewski explains that the content of e-mail deals with a false economic fund backed by governments and specialized institutions. The fraudulent e-mail says that the objective is to raise USD 675 million to help those countries most in need to respond to the coronavirus crisis in April.

Some of the activities that they want to finance are the distribution of medical supplies to health workers, the acquisition of laboratory equipment, the dissemination of scientific and preventive information, and the development of a vaccine against the disease.

Wisniewski assured that those criminals do not only seek to steal bitcoins, but also the victims’ identity data. In that sense, he says that one of the e-mails has a link to a website with a login form requesting data to supposedly provide access to the false WHO webpage.

In the same way, he states that other e-mails include an attached document that appears to be official government information. However, it hides a virus that can infect the computer with malicious software that will seek to obtain personal, banking and password information, among other types.

The specialist recommends that users be alert to e-mails with grammatical or typing errors, and advises that they verify the integrity of the webpages and links. Besides, he encourages them to update their computers and antivirus software, and change all passwords in case they notice any danger.

The researcher also called for donations to legitimate sites, such as the COVID-19 Response Fund, even though this website does not receive donations in Bitcoin.

However, many initiatives have emerged within the cryptocurrency ecosystem to support the fight against this disease. Among them is the Folding@Home project, led by Stanford University, whose computational processing power at the service of the research to fight diseases. Therefore, cryptocurrency miners with GPU or CPU equipment can collaborate with this initiative.

Similarly, Ethereum’s crowdfunding platform Gitcoin announced that its next round of financing will include a space for projects in the health sector. The creation of this category arose, among other reasons, to promote research and combat the coronavirus since March 23rd.

In conclusion, it only remains to be alert to e-mails, webpages and fraudulent applications, such as those that have recently emerged to steal bitcoins through methods such as ransomware.

By Alexander Salazar


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