New research has found scammers are registering thousands of "malicious" or "risky" COVID-19 related website domains each day.These are websites suspected of containing malware - software used to damage or gain unauthorised access to a system, or are being used to phish users – luring them into providing sensitive data.In Australia, research group Unit 42, Palo Alto Networks threat intelligence team, detected 534 malicious COVID-19 themed domains were created in the past six weeks.The majority of the risky domains were registered in the United States, where 29,007 domains were flagged. The US was followed by Italy (2,877), Germany (2,564), and Russia (2,456).
Newly registered domains containing COVID-19 related keywords from March 9, 2020 to April26, 2020. (Unit 42 / Jay Chen)In total, Unit 42 researchers analysed 1.2 million newly registered COVID-19 related domains were created between March 9 to April 26, and found 86,600 were malicious or risky. The flagged domains used keywords such as "covid", "ncov", "pandemic", "vaccine," "corona", and "virus".The research group also found a number of the malicious domains were associated with multiple IP addresses. This ultimately makes IP-based firewalls ineffective, meaning it is harder for authorities to track and successfully block risky sites.
Over 70 per cent of the risky domains were hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS), the researchers found.
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86,600+ malicious domains related to COVID-19 were registered in seven weeks. (Unit 42 / Jay Chen)For breaking news alerts and livestreams straight to your smartphone sign up to the9News app and set notifications to on at the App Store or Google Play.You can also get up-to-date information from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App Store, Google Play and the Government's WhatsApp channel.