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Zoom: a ransomware asking for Bitcoin
Zoom: a ransomware asking for Bitcoin
Security

Zoom: a ransomware asking for Bitcoin

By Eleonora Spagnolo - 22 Apr 2020

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Even the app of the moment, Zoom, has been the victim of ransomware cases, with infected computers and an associated ransom request in Bitcoin.

Zoom is an application dedicated to making videoconferences, which has reached a mass spread in these days of lockdown by Covid-19. It turned out to be a useful system to allow meetings between friends, rather than business meetings, all remotely. Obviously, there was no escaping the attention of cybercriminals.

The ransomware case concerning Zoom has been reported in Calcutta, India and the news is reported by The Economic Times. According to reports, two people found themselves with infected computers and received an email inviting them to pay a ransom of $1,000 in Bitcoin. To facilitate the transition, the cybercriminals would provide instructions on how to buy the required bitcoin for the ransom and get their data back. In addition, they were also asked not to report anything to the authorities, otherwise, the data would be permanently lost.

The two victims would have in common precisely the use of the Zoom app, although the link between the ransomware that blocked the devices and the app is not yet clear. 

However, only a few days earlier, on April 17th to be precise, the local Cyber Coordination Centre had warned that Zoom was not a secure application.

Zoom and security risks

The “problem” with Zoom is that it has become really popular in a very short time. It is currently one of the most downloaded apps from Google Play and Apple Store. From (long-distance) drinks between friends, to boyfriend conversations, to work videoconferencing to distance learning, everyone has chosen Zoom over other video messaging apps that seemed more popular, like Skype or Hangout for example. 

It was almost inevitable that Zoom would also attract the attention of cybercriminals who exploited it in several ways to steal data from unfortunate users. 

CEO Eric Yuan in an interview with CNN admitted the vulnerabilities and “mistakes” of Zoom, partly due to the speed with which the app spread in the days of the pandemic. In any case, the IT department is trying to fix the bugs and is supporting users. 

Covid-19 and scams

It seems almost as if the Coronavirus has contributed to the spread of computer scams in which apps like Zoom become more of a vehicle rather than co-responsible. 

The need for socializing makes everyone more vulnerable. So does the need for information. It’s no coincidence that another type of scam has spread through an Android app that apparently should provide information about the Coronavirus, in practice who downloads it on their device is installing a virus known as CovidLock, which blocks the phone asking for a ransom in Bitcoin.

It is useful to remember some advice to avoid running into this kind of problems:

  • Visit and trust only official websites;
  • Be careful with email senders and attachments;
  • Never give credentials to unknown websites. 
Eleonora Spagnolo
Eleonora Spagnolo

Journalist passionate about the web and the digital world. She graduated with honours in Multimedia Publishing at the University La Sapienza in Rome and completed a master's degree in Web and Social Media Marketing.

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