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India Among Top Targets For Online Fake Vaccine Malware: Report

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Jun 29, 2021

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India is among the top targets for fake apps and malware promising Covid19 vaccinations, says a report from McAfee, a software security company. India had 883,884 Covid19 related malicious files of the total 13,133,582 detected worldwide.

“With most of the world still anxious about Covid and getting vaccinated, cybercriminals are targeting these fears with bogus apps, text messages, and social media invitations. Malware and malicious links hidden inside these fakes display ads and try to steal banking information and credentials,” wrote the report’s authors.

The report stated that Indians were targeted via an SMS and Whatsapp messages, which led them to download apps from the Google Play Store that would then install malware on their devices. This malware could then make purchases and sign up for premium services and subscriptions, which all get charged to the user’s account. This malware also sends itself to everyone in the user’s contact list via SMS or WhatsApp.


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“We’ve seen how the pandemic not only led to an increased dependence on mobile devices, but how it has prompted bad actors into developing new ways of tricking consumers and stealing their personal data. As well as these advanced forms of malware and deceit, we’ve seen that hackers are also returning to billing scams, but using new tricks,” Raj Samani, McAfee Fellow and Chief Scientist, said in a statement. “As consumers continue to carry out daily activities on the go, it is critical that they stay educated and proactive about protecting their personal data.”

India recently also saw a rise in reports of fake Covid19 vaccine drives in states like Maharashtra and West Bengal. Perpetrators usually fill syringes with saline solution and stick the vaccination label on top. More than 2000 people received fake vaccinations in Mumbai alone from nine different vaccination drives, making the Bombay High Court ask the state government to create an SOS policy to counter these scams. In Kolkata, perpetrators arrested in the city’s fake vaccines scam may be charged with the attempt to murder under the Indian Penal Code.

As of now, the courts and the government are still investigating if these fake vaccine drives may lead to adverse effects in the victims.

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Written By Aditi Murti

Aditi Murti is a culture writer at The Swaddle. Previously, she worked as a freelance journalist focused on gender and cities. Find her on social media @aditimurti.

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