98,000+ Malicious Coronavirus Websites Discovered: Open Data Project Exposes the Scale of COVID-19 Malicious Activity Online

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND / ACCESSWIRE / April 28, 2020 / ProPrivacy has launched the largest open data project of its kind, documenting, analyzing and sharing malicious domain activity related to the Coronavirus and COVID-19.

  • A third of coronavirus-related domains are harmful – In partnership with Alphabet’s VirusTotal and WHOIS XML API, ProPrivacy has analyzed more than 300,000 domains and uncovered almost 100,000 malicious domains spanning the length of the global health crisis.
  • Data provides a detailed timeline for malicious domain registrations – The open data project paints an accurate and detailed picture of malicious online activity in the lead up to and throughout the pandemic.
  • Domain registrations often spike as a result of real-world events – The research team saw a 648 percent increase in malicious domain registrations on the day that the World Health Organization named the disease caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). When officials declared the outbreak a pandemic, domain registrations ballooned from circa 1,306 per day to 2,672.


Above: Number of malicious domains related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) registered since January 9th.

About the data:

ProPrivacy is tracking all new domain registrations in real-time and is analyzing them on a weekly basis to identify those that may have recently been weaponized.

Domains flagged as malicious by any one of VirusTotal’s 70 threat intelligence partners are cross-referenced against WHOIS XML API databases for additional data. All of this data has been published on ProPrivacy.com and Github.

New data is collected every Sunday. There is a one week delay on recent data as it is collected and analysed. Data is rechecked fortnightly, so it is as reliable as possible.

For those not looking to analyze the data, ProPrivacy has created a simple public-facing tool that allows users to check if a website has been flagged as malicious.

All of the data, as well as the tool, can be found at: https://proprivacy.com/tools/scam-website-checker

The data can also be accessed from our Github repo in .csv format: https://github.com/ProPrivacy/covid-19

Sean McGrath, lead researcher on the project:

The data clearly shows that cyber-criminals are opportunists, preying on the concerns and fears caused by the health crisis. Whether it’s a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers or the promise of antibody testing, criminals are using the news agenda to scam people out of their money. In just the past 48 hours, we’ve even seen a rise in UV therapy-related domains following President Trump’s comments.

Criminals are also using domains that closely resemble trusted sources of information such as the World Health Organization, making it even more challenging to stay safe online.

The advice is simple. Citizens should be cautious of any website that is not a well-known and trusted organization. Rather than opening links within emails or social media posts, use a search engine to find the information you are looking for. The public can also use our tool to check if a website is potentially malicious.

About Us

ProPrivacy is the leading resource for digital freedom. Founded in 2013, the site’s mission is to help users around the world reclaim their right to privacy through research, reviews, knowledge-sharing, investigations and, direct action.

Contacts

Tom Chivers Tom Chivers Suite C Gateway House, Wirral, UK. CH62 3NX
Digital Marketing Executive  
pr@proprivacy.com proprivacy.com

SOURCE: ProPrivacy

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