India is witnessing a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases and with this, millions of people across the country are registering themselves for COVID-19 vaccination. Taking advantage of this opportunity, hackers, fraudsters and people with malicious intentions are coming up with new tricks to make a trap for the innocents.
Making people aware of such malicious elements, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) issued a fresh advisory to warn citizens about a few CoWin vaccine registration apps that are found to be nothing short of a scam. These fake apps are using the Short Message Service (SMS) to gain popularity. In its official advisory, CERT-In said that the SMS message carries a link that installs the malicious app on Android-based devices, the Zee Media Bureau reported.
“The app essentially spreads itself via SMS to victims’ contacts. The app also gains unnecessary permissions that attackers could leverage to acquire user data such as contact list,” CERT-In said. Scammers are conning people with the help of SMSs to trap citizens into their fishy net.
It functions in a way that the SMS asks receivers to download and install any of the five apps on their smartphone and it is downloaded as APK files so that scammers can easily send malware into their smartphones. This is done to steal personal information such as passwords or financial information. CERT-In urged Indians to remain “beware about phishing and fake domains, emails, text messages and phone calls which falsely claim covid vaccine registrations.”
The only official portal is CoWin where one can book COVID-19 vaccine slots and it can be accessed at cowin.gov.in. Indians can also use the Aarogya Setu app to access cowin.gov.in to their vaccine appointment, the report said.
CoWin app alerts users about free vaccination slots whereas these fake apps don’t even do that.