This COVID-19 tracker app can lock your Android phone

Ransomware alert: Hackers using fake coronavirus tracker app to lock Android phones

In the last couple of months, we have covered multiple reports of hackers misusing COVID-19 global pandemic to prey on naive users to steal financial credentials and now in the latest development, cyber criminals have developed a malicious software-laced Coronavirus tracking Android app.

The COVID19 Tracker app is available for download on the website with the same namesake. If any user comes to the site, he/she will be asked to download the Android app for the heat map. It says to offer the information on the spread of the pandemic in addition to country-wise statistics of COVID-19 infections, recoveries and fatalities.

Once installed, the Coronavirus app, which houses ransomware 'CovidLock' takes full control of the phone and blocks the user from opening the screen lock. 

"CovidLock uses techniques to deny the victim access to their phone by forcing a change in the password used to unlock the phone. This is also known as a screen-lock attack and has been seen before on Android ransomware," Tarik Salah, Senior Security Engineer and Malware Researcher at DomainTools, said in a statement.

Must read | Trojan alert: Hackers misuse Coronavirus outbreak to spread PC malware

The CovidLock demands a ransom of $100 in bitcoins to the victims and if they don't oblige within 48 hours, it warns of permanently delete all the contacts, videos, images, messages and other personal information on the phone. It also threatens to leak social media account user IDs and passwords on public online platforms.

CovidLock malware's ransom note on Android phone's screenlock (Credit: Domain Tools)

There is no word on how many have fallen prey to the CovidLock malware. To avoid getting trapped, people are advised not to install the Android app from the third-party app store or from unfamiliar websites. Always download apps from official Google Play store only.

Must read | Hackers use fake coronavirus heat map to inject PC malware

Here's how to protect your phones and computers from malware, trojan
1) Whether you have an Android mobile or iOS-based iPhone or  Windows-powered PCs or Mac computer, always update your devices with the latest software. All three Google, Microsoft, and Apple send regularly send firmware — especially security patches monthly or on a priority basis, whenever they detect threats. So, make sure you install the latest software
2) Another good practice is to install a premium Antivirus software, which offers 24x7 protection. They are equipped to detect threats quickly whenever you unknowingly visit a shady website
3) It goes without saying, never visit any shady websites and be advised to see if it has 'https' or just 'http'. If it has the latter, just kill the link and initiate anti-virus scanning on your device
4) Never ever open emails or SMS and click URL links sent from unknown senders 
5) Also, never install apps or software from unfamiliar publishers
6) As said before always download apps from Google Play or Apple App Store or Windows Store only. Never install from any third-party app store

Get the latest news on new launches, gadget reviews, apps, cyber security and more on personal technology only on DH Tech.  


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