Scams that have been circulating on WhatsApp for at least ten days take advantage of the new coronavirus and have already reached 2 million users in Brazil. The rumors use the names of major brands and promise information about the Covid-19 pandemic, distribution of gel alcohol, free subscription services or «coronavirus citizen assistance». The data are from the dfndr lab, a laboratory specializing in digital security at PSafe.
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The company detected 19 scams and six malicious applications that use the pandemic and quarantine as bait to attract people. Chains have similar characteristics: they promise a supposed benefit and direct the user to access the malicious link. In the case of recent attacks, some texts mention tests to see if the user has the coronavirus.
‘Coronavirus aid’ and other scams on WhatsApp reach 2 million – Photo: Rubens Achilles / TechTudo
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According to the director of the dfndr lab, Emilio Simoni, cybercriminals use events of great repercussion to make the attack more real. «Some scams take advantage of real actions that large companies and the government are taking to tackle the coronavirus, such as the donation of gel alcohol and payment of benefits to the population», explains Simoni, who believes in the increase in the number of attacks and victims in the next days.
An example is the supposed «Citizen Aid 2020» program, which says that self-employed workers and low-income people are entitled to «R $ 200 monthly coronavirus assistance». For that, the victim would have to register on a website that is, in fact, a malicious link.
Federal Government started registering the Citizen Aid which gives a monthly help worth R $ 200 for self-employed and low-income people to help combat CORONAVIRUS. Check if you are entitled to the benefit, says the misleading message.
The chain began to be shared in a WhatsApp group on Sunday (22) and was denied on the same day by the Special Secretariat for Social Development. The coup takes advantage of measures announced in recent days by the government, but which have not yet been approved and, therefore, are not in force.
Other messages circulating on social networks contain fake news about the pandemic situation of the new coronavirus. According to a survey by the dfndr lab, around 42.5 million Brazilians have received or accessed false news about Covid-19. For 43.2% of respondents, WhatsApp is the main vector for rumors.
The messenger has taken steps to avoid misinformation in the application, such as the launch of an exclusive website for information about the new coronavirus. In addition, the beta version of WhatsApp announced, this Saturday (21), tests of a tool to search directly on Google the text of frequently forwarded messages. The purpose of the feature is to allow the users themselves to check the vehemence of the information that is widely passed on in the application.
WhatsApp is used to create scams in messages about coronavirus – Photo: Luciana Maline / TechTudo
PSafe’s specialized digital security lab provides users with some methods to prevent WhatsApp attacks. It is necessary to be suspicious of sensational messages or that offer gifts, in addition to seeking official sources, such as the Ministry of Health, and reliable newspapers and websites that can confirm information.
The Ministry of Health has WhatsApp (61) 99289-4640 to deny the fake news sent by citizens. The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a bot (in English) on WhatsApp, last Friday (20), to answer questions from users through automated responses, such as prevention methods, myths and truths, and symptoms of new coronavirus.
The laboratory also provides a link checking service at the address (psafe.com/dfndr-lab/pt-br/?utm_source=blog&utm_content=pandemia), which signals in a few seconds whether a page may be a threat. It is also important to keep antivirus software installed on your Android or iPhone (iOS) phone.
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