Beware of the virus trap

Beware of the virus trap

Curious about Covid-19 updates? Follow only government websites and reliable sources to avoid falling in the trap of digital frauds, say cyber professionals.

Last week, Mumbai-based Avhijit Gavali lost Rs 1 lakh after he downloaded a mobile app that claimed it would make his phone vibrate if a Covid-19 positive patient is detected nearby.

The World Health Organization calls spread of false information on the novel coronavirus an “infodemic”, and Ranchi-based non-profit organisation Cyber Peace Foundation is researching on how to make people aware of the dangers lurking in the virtual world in these times of worry.

The foundation’s teams in Ranchi and Mumbai have found that hackers have created 41 fake Unified Payments Interface (UPI) IDs similar to the original PMCARES fund.

To add to it, there are currently 32,000 websites that claim to spread information on Covid-19 across the world.

“There is no proper research in this. Our teams in Ranchi and Mumbai are working on it and have found that globally there are 41 fake UPIs for PM CARES and 32,000 websites on Covid-19 information. This is a time when many people would want to donate and seek information but a little carelessness can cost them a fortune,” said Vineet Kumar, founder of Cyber Peace Foundation.

The State Bank of India, too, tweeted on Monday making citizens aware about the fake UPI IDs.

Messages like — know people infected with coronavirus around you; Nasa satellite information on coronavirus retreat in India; safe face mask messages with links; information on roche coronavirus vaccine — are some of the fake links to con people either of data or money.

“The motive is either to steal data to take control of your phone or money. Every crisis situation gives these criminals opportunity but people will have to stay alert. The Cyber Peace Foundation has an email address [email protected] and a helpline number 9570000066 that people can approach,” said Vineet.

The foundation through social media has started awareness drives for people who are working from home. Using a secure connection; being aware of phishing attempts through email and messages; reporting suspicious mails; updating devices and installing antivirus software are some of the tips for people working from home.

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