Hackers are using fears of the fast-spreading coronavirus to send a computer virus, USA Today reported.
Cybersecurity researchers at IBM have discovered that hackers are sending spam emails to people in the hopes of infecting smartphones and computers with malicious software.
The malware is disguised as seemingly legit information about coronavirus.
“Such a strategy is able to trick more victims into clicking malicious links or opening malicious files, ultimately increasing the effectiveness of a malware campaign,” the researchers wrote.
USA Today reported emails sent to people in Japan claim the respiratory illness has infiltrated the country and urge the recipient to open an email attachment for more information. If the receiver opens the file, malicious software can then harvest personal data and can inject other "inflammatory" software.
That means hackers can gain access to your personal files and copy them.
"Hackers will use whatever is timely to get victims to do the action required," Marty Puranik, a cybersecurity expert and CEO of Atlantic Net, told USA Today.
IBM's report focuses primarily on Japan, though there could be an uptick in malicious coronavirus-related scam emails in the United States.
"We expect to see more malicious email traffic based on the coronavirus in the future, as the infection spreads," the cybersecurity researchers wrote. "This will probably include other languages, too."
Experts suggest some precautions that can be taken include using secure passwords and running antivirus software.
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