Coronavirus: fake tracking apps seek to steal personal data
Steph Deschamps / June 13, 2020
At least a dozen fake contact tracking apps, designed to resemble official pandemic tools, have been deployed worldwide to spread computer viruses and steal user data, cybersecurity researchers said on Wednesday.
Once installed on the smartphone, these apps "download and install malware" to "steal personal identifiers and data," said researchers from the Californian firm Anomali.
They do not appear to be distributed through official channels (such as Google or Apple app stores), but do spread via links in other applications or websites that encourage their adoption.
"Malicious actors continue to imitate official apps, provided by the authorities, to take advantage of the trust they inspire," said Anomali in a statement.
The global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has made the name of the virus a symbol of fear. These actors exploit this fear, "added the company.
Contact tracking applications have been developed in many countries, in partnership with companies.
They use smartphone technologies to determine if users have been in contact with an infected person.
But digital specialists, lawyers and freedom activists see these apps as the beginnings of a surveillance society, where algorithms know everything about us and constantly send us instructions to follow.
Anomali has found fake apps deployed in Armenia, Brazil, India, Colombia, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Russia, and Singapore. In some cases, they advertised themselves as the official government app.
A British association issued a similar warning last month against software in the UK.
Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, there have been more and more computer threats which seek to take advantage of the increased vulnerability of people seeking information and solutions.