Zika health scare leads to security scares and scams

It might seem low or fairly callous to use health information to spread scams, but that’s exactly what is happening.

The security research team at Symantec, makers of Norton Internet Security, has picked up on something rather concerning over the past few weeks, with information on the outbreak of the Zika virus online leading to spam sending out potentially dangerous malware.

In case you haven’t heard much on the Zika virus, it’s one transmitted by a mosquito, with those infected not necessarily feeling sick, though it can create flu-like symptoms in some people.

The real troubling area for Zika, however, is in pregnancies, where infected women who are pregnant at the time can have birth defects introduced, something that has been noticed where Zika has been seen in Brazil.

In fact, Brazil is one of the largest areas where the virus has been seen, hitting outbreak levels, and naturally, this has made information on the area super important.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals are taking advantage of this event to get malware out onto as many computers as they can, using the backdrop of information on Zika to get the scam out there.

Symantec has picked up on this with news that spam is penetrating Brazil purporting to be from health websites in the region, with so-called “instructions” on how you can kill mosquitos available from file links.

As you can probably imagine, these links just lead to malicious files which will download malware onto a computer, and if you don’t have security software, it will just leave that machine infected, not with the mosquito-transmitted Zika, but something else altogether.

On the positive side of things, Australia isn’t in the crosshairs for this scam, with Satnam Narang, a Security Expert for Symantec telling GadgetGuy that “this particular scam was localised and focused on Brazil, as it is the country most notably affected by cases involving the Zika virus.

“We haven’t seen much malicious activity outside of Brazil at this time, but certainly, the global interest in the Zika virus could be leveraged outside of Brazil,” said Narang.

So Australia isn’t affected, and mobile devices aren’t under attack from this piece of malware, either, but it’s just one more reason why internet security software is a necessity, because if you’re looking for information on anything — the Zika virus included — you could accidentally fall into a trap like this.