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Vulnerabilities / Threats

3/30/2020
05:15 PM
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Researchers Spot Sharp Increase in Zoom-Themed Domain Registrations

Attackers are attempting to take advantage of the surge in teleworking prompted by COVID-19, Check Point says.

Cybercriminals are setting up numerous fake Zoom domains to try and take advantage of users who want to use the videoconferencing tool to connect with friends, family, and colleagues during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Researchers from Check Point said they have observed a sharp increase in domains with the name "Zoom" in them over the past several weeks. Since January, more than 1,700 new Zoom-themed domains have been registered worldwide. More than 400 of them were registered just in the past week alone. Many of them were legitimately registered by companies with similar names or were used in domains with relevant content.

But of the Zoom domains that have been registered since January, at least 70 appear suspicious. That conclusion is based on when and who registered it, the IP address on which it resides, the files it is related to, how many accesses it has, and other factors, says Omer Dembinsky, data research team leader at Check Point. "In certain cases we have visibility to the actual attacks, but we can know about a suspicious website even before it is used in an active attack," Dembinsky says.

Zoom is among the most targeted apps, but it is not the only videoconferencing or communications app that attackers have targeted in COVID-19 related phishing and other scams in recent weeks. According to Check Point, new phishing websites have been detected for virtually every other leading communications apps as well including classroom.google.com.

The goal in creating these spoofed sites typically is to trick users who are lured there into parting with account credentials or into getting them to share payment card details and other sensitive data, Dembinsky says.

Multiple security vendors have reported a surge in COVID-19 themed attacks since the beginning of the year. Many of the attacks are being driven by the sharp increase in the number of people working from home because of social distancing and stay-at-home rules in effect throughout the country. Threat actors hoping to exploit the situation have launched numerous phishing, business email compromise, account takeover, and other attacks in recent weeks.

Frequent Ploys
One frequently used ploy has been to try and get people working from home to download and install fake VPN installers that end up connecting users to malicious websites. Attackers have also been attempting to trick users into visiting malicious websites, downloading malware, or sharing sensitive data using COVID-19 themed phishing emails purporting to be from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the World Health Organization (WHO). Earlier this month Check Point reported it had found more than 2,200 Coronavirus-themed domains registered this year that appeared suspicious in nature and another 93 similar ones that were being used to serve malware.

The sudden increase in the use of videoconferencing and communications tools appears to have heightened privacy concerns in other ways as well. Over the weekend Zoom announced it has revoked a "Login with Facebook" feature that allowed iOS users to access Zoom via their Facebook accounts. In a note, the company announced it had taken the step after learning the Facebook software development kit, which enabled the login, was collecting too much information from users.

"Our customers' privacy is incredibly important to us, and therefore we decided to remove the Facebook SDK in our iOS client and have reconfigured the feature so that users will still be able to log in with Facebook via their browser," Zoom said.

In another development, Armor said it had observed cybercriminals attempting to exploit concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic in other ways as well. According to the security vendor, its researchers found cybercrime sites that typically specialize in selling illegal drugs now attempting to profit off COVID-19 concerns by offering chloroquine, surgical masks, and N95 masks at sharply inflated prices.

"Cybercriminals don't miss the opportunity to take advantage of any event, good or bad, in order to carry out scams and attacks," Dembinsky says. With COVID-19, they have plenty of opportunities to exploit the huge concerns and interest around the virus itself, protection measures, tests, cures and vaccines, government guidelines, distance working, and learning. "In this aspect it has more impact than a usual event we see during the year," he says.

Related Content:

Check out The Edge, Dark Reading's new section for features, threat data, and in-depth perspectives. Today's featured story: "How to Evict Attackers Living Off Your Land."

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio
 

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