Do NOT download this Android 'coronavirus safety app' – it's a scam that can steal your texts and phonebook

A SCAM encouraging people to download an app if they want a 'coronavirus safety mask' is targeting Android users.

Cyber-security experts found the dangerous website which states "Download App From Below Button And Install. You Will Get A Corona Safety Mask."

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

Victims who click download will then see another button stating "GET SAFETY MASK".

You'll then be taken to a fake mask website.

Then a message saying "You infected [the mask site] with High Dose of Traffic." is said to appear.

While you're reading this message the hackers are busy gaining all your contacts from your Android phone.

Once your contacts are taken they will then receive texts trying to lure them to the site.

The scam was spotted by researchers at IT security company Zscaler.

So far the scam just seems to steal contacts but Zscaler's Shivang Desai has warned it could do much more.

He wrote in a company blogpost: "There's the threat that the malware could ask the victim to pay online for the mask and steal the credit card information, but we did not find any such functionality in the app.

"We believe the app is in its early stages and this (and other) functionalities will be added as the app is updated."

How to avoid the scam

If someone does click to install the app they will be given the chance to deny the app privileges to read contacts or send SMS messages prior to installing.

However, to really protect yourself you shouldn't be downloading Android apps from anywhere other than the official Google Play Store.

It's wise not to trust any random websites that are trying to sell you hard-to-find medical supplies.

If you're still concerned you could download a highly rated anti-virus app from the Google Play Store.

What to do if you're worried you've got coronavirus

The coronavirus is continuing to sweep its way across the globe with Britain seeing more cases in people who aren't linked to outbreaks overseas

Symptoms of Covid-19 can include: a cough, a high temperature, difficulty breathing

In most cases, you won't know whether you have a coronavirus or a different cold-causing virus

But if a coronavirus infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract, it can cause pneumonia, especially in older people, people with heart disease or people with weakened immune systems

It is incredibly contagious and is spread through contact with anything the virus is on as well as infected breath, coughs or sneezes

The best way to prevent catching any form of coronavirus is to practice good hygiene

If you have cold-like symptoms, you should help protect others by staying home and avoiding contact with others

You should also cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze then throw it away and wash your hands

Cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces which you may have touched is also important

Meanwhile, leading symptom-checking provider to the NHS Doctorlink has been updated to help identify patients' risk of having coronavirus

Source: NHS

In other news, Microsoft has warned about a new vulnerability in all supported versions of Windows.

YouTube is limiting video quality around the entire world for a month.

And, a set of of 50 dodgy apps used by cyber crooks to hack into people's phones has been uncovered.

Have you spotted any coronavirus-related scams? Let us know in the comments…

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Do NOT click this 'coronavirus map' – it's a dangerous scam to hijack your device

A DANGEROUS scam is offering people a fake "map" showing the spread of coronavirus in a bid to hijack their gadgets.

Researchers found a malicious app disguised as a way to find out where the deadly virus has spread.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

If downloaded, it allows cyber crooks to look at your and location and photos and possibly spy on you through your camera.

The Android app, called corona live 1.1, appears to be part of a larger mobile surveillance campaign operating out of Libya and targeting Libyan citizens.

Researcher Kristin Del Rosso, of cyber security firm Lookout, which discovered the scam, discussed the app in a blog post published Wednesday.

Tap to see where COVID-19 is near you

The software is actually masquerading as a legitimate coronavirus map app, corona live.

The authentic version uses data collected by John Hopkins University to show infection and death rates of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in different countries.

However, those who download the bogus version by mistake are in for a nasty surprise.

"Upon first launch, the app informs the user it does not require special access privileges," Kristin wrote.

"However, it subsequently proceeds to request access to photos, media, files, device location, as well as permission to take pictures and record video."

Once permissions are handed over, a hacker can download sensitive information from your phone, Kristin added.

They can even remotely activate your microphone and camera to spy on you.

Based on the IP addresses where the app is hosted, the person or group running the campaign is likely based in Libya.

It may even be part of a sophisticated state campaign to spy on citizens, Kristin wrote.

It's not the first time the coronavirus outbreak has been used by scammers to target people.

Yesterday, we revealed that a new attack known as "scareware" is taking advantage of widespread fear about the virus to scam victims.

Malware and ransomware attacks are said to be increasing as people are searching online for COVID-19.


Get the latest coronavirus news, facts and figures from around the world – plus essential advice for you and your family.

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Scientists have produced a day-by-day breakdown of the typical Covid-19 symptoms

In other news, Instagram has banned dangerous, reckless and insensitive coronavirus filters.

We recently debunked some of the most outrageous coronavirus conspiracy theories.

And, Android users are being warned about a new "cookie bug" created by hackers.

What are your thoughts on this scam? Let us know in the comments…

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The Extreme Distress of Airline Stocks as Shown in Three Charts

Airlines are arguably among the hardest hit sectors in the global coronavirus pandemic as they are highly exposed to travel restrictions and have a strong correlation to the state of the overall economy.

Earlier this week, multiple U.S. airlines said they would cut capacity and withdrew their forecasts for the year. Then matters took a worse turn Wednesday when U.S. President Donald Trump said he will significantly restrict travel from Europe for the next 30 days. Meanwhile, cities and companies have continued to encourage working remotely and conferences, entertainment and sporting events have been shut down.

“At this point, we see duration as the biggest factor in a potential recovery versus intensity of the virus,” Cowen analyst Helane Becker wrote in a note, adding that there are similarities with the demand-shocked environment that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The pain facing airline stocks can be summed up in these three charts:

The nine-member S&P Supercomposite Airlines Industry Index has never before seen a plunge this deep and quick. As the chart shows, all the prior drops of comparable or bigger magnitude took much longer to play out. On Thursday, the index sank as much as 17%, its biggest intraday drop since September 2001. The top decliners were SkyWest, United, Hawaiian and Delta.

While airlines around the world are feeling the pain, shares of U.S. carriers are taking the biggest hit. The S&P Supercomposite Airlines index has fallen 43% over the past six months.

The widespread meltdown that is threatening to tip the world into an economic recession has also changed some familiar rules, at least for now. Jet fuel has historically been one of the biggest costs for the aviation industry, which is why airline stocks and oil prices are typically on an opposite trajectory – when oil goes up, airline shares suffer, and vice versa. However, the massive crash in oil since Saudi Arabia kicked off a price war last weekend hasn’t bolstered airline shares, suggesting uncertainties about the virus outbreak are now the biggest investor concern.

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Coronavirus and China – Do country's leaders care more about containing democracy or the virus?

Coronavirus economic impact on China has been huge: Hong Kong journalist and executive editor

South China Morning Post executive Chung-Yan Chow argues things look to be moving in a positive direction in China with regard to coronavirus and most cases of the disease are confined to Wuhan, but the virus has had a significant impact on the Chinese economy.

Hong Kong police arrested several pro-democracy figures early Friday morning on trumped-up charges. The move shows Beijing is more concerned with containing democracy than the coronavirus that emerged from China.

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Among the arrested was Jimmy Lai, the only outspoken pro-democracy tycoon in Hong Kong. Lai founded Apple Daily, a popular news outlet in Hong Kong and Taiwan that favors democracy and a free press. Police also arrested two other pro-democracy politicians.


The three reportedly were charged and released for “illegal assembly” related to one of the scores of mass gatherings against the government that have taken place since last June. Protesters have resisted Beijing’s efforts to undermine Hong Kong’s freedoms and relative autonomy.

Andrew Wan, a pro-democracy member of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, observed, “The three were not even organizers, this is clearly political persecution.”

Authorities also reportedly charged Lai with allegedly intimidating a reporter in 2017 by using foul language. That journalist works for Oriental Daily, a pro-Beijing competitor newspaper.

In reality, the Hong Kong government, whose activities are increasingly directed by Beijing and the Chinese Communist Party, is trying to use the disastrous coronavirus outbreak to its advantage. Protests have dropped off due to concern about the outbreak. Rather than focus all of their energy on public health, authorities are evidently hoping instead to crack down on pro-democracy sentiment.


It won’t work. Hong Kong residents are incensed at local authorities for not moving faster to seal the border with mainland China. This obvious precaution to halting a viral outbreak wasn’t taken because senior officials in Hong Kong thought the move would upset their masters in Beijing.

This politics-before-health conduct fits with actions by China’s communist government on the mainland, which included harassing doctors who warned of the outbreak and misleading the world of its severity and scope.

Lai’s true sin in the eyes of authorities was probably drawing attention to this fact and its political ramifications. Writing in the Wall Street Journal about the outbreak and coverup, Lai observed: “Deception is China’s true rule of law. Now the world must start asking something that Chinese people living under communism ask themselves every day: How reliable can China’s political, social and economic institutions be when its local government leaders routinely lie to their citizens and superiors alike?”

The simple question must have touched a nerve in Beijing. The Chinese government previously reacted furiously when the Journal ran an opinion piece by Walter Russell Mead titled, “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia.” Mead similarly linked the coronavirus outbreak with the fragility of China’s political system and economy, despite their facades of strength.


Neither Lai, Mead nor their respective publications’ editorial inclinations are new. So why is the reaction from Beijing and its cronies different in this instance? The answer may be that coronavirus is an existential threat to the Chinese Communist Party and its boss, Chairman Xi Jinping.

The implicit bargain the Party has made with the Chinese people is that it will provide a growing economy in exchange for its monopoly on power and intense political repression. In recent decades, that economic growth has been stunning and consistent, partly due to a one-sided trade arrangement with the United States that favored China.

But even before the outbreak, America began to alter trade, and China’s economy was probably at zero growth for the first time in decades. Now it is almost certainly in steep recession, the severity of which most foreign financial analysts and economists underestimate.

Across China, factories have been shuttered and entire cities quarantined in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus. Tourism and business travel have dropped to nil. Foreign companies that have unwisely relied on Chinese production for their supply chains are scrambling to diversify, and many that leave will not return. In Hong Kong, restaurants and malls are empty, and service-industry businesses are facing plummeting enterprise values. The outbreak and mismanagement of public health have dealt another blow to the city’s status as a financial capital.

It’s a shame that authorities in Hong Kong have chosen to side with Beijing. If they think their repression will silence the men they arrested or others in the city, they are mistaken.

As Lai told the New York Times in an interview about Beijing’s intimidation, “If you don’t fight, you get frightened. I have always been a fighter.”

So too are millions of others in Hong Kong, and the fight will go on.

The only thing that has changed is that more and more people are beginning to see that the Chinese Communist Party and Xi Jinping are the real sick men of Asia.

Christian Whiton was a senior advisor in the Donald Trump and George W. Bush administrations.  He is a senior fellow for strategy and public diplomacy at the Center for the National Interest and the author of “Smart Power: Between Diplomacy and War.”


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Chaos in the Caribbean as Ports Turn Away Cruises on Virus Fears

The Dominican Republic turned away a cruise ship with about 1,500 people on board Thursday, the latest such episode as coronavirus concerns spread to tourist meccas in the Caribbean.

Local officials there refused to let passengers leave the Braemar Thursday after learning that some aboard the ship, operated by Bonheur ASA’s Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, were under observation for flu, cough and respiratory problems.

The company said no guests or crew had shown symptoms consistent with coronavirus, and that the move was an “overreaction.”

“We believe that this was as a result of a small number of influenza-like cases on board,” the company said.

Meanwhile, passengers aboard the MSC Meraviglia were awaiting test results in Cozumel, Mexico, after their ship was barred from docking in Jamaica and Grand Cayman.

The episodes underscore the heightened concern of public officials over coronavirus following confirmed cases on a ship in Asia. Previously, vessels had been turned away or quarantined in Asia and Europe, but the new incidents strike closer to home for U.S. and Latin American authorities and threaten the U.S. industry’s core market of the Caribbean.

The largest U.S.-based operators — Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. — have lost about $31 billion in market value in about six weeks. Shares of Carnival, the industry giant, closed at their lowest in more than six years on Thursday. MSC Cruises, which operates the Meraviglia, is closely held, and Fred. Olsen is part of a larger company.

Risks Come Home

From the outset, cruise companies began to dial back their exposure in Asia, where the industry had a small but growing presence. But the spread to Europe — and the risk to the Americas — poses a greater risk to the companies, especially during what is typically peak booking season.

In Cozumel, health officials were awaiting test results for a crew member and a passenger aboard the Meraviglia. The ship sailed for Cozumel after it was turned away in Jamaica and Grand Cayman.

MSC Cruises said the ship would remain in Cozumel until results come in and was optimistic guests would be able to disembark on Friday for tourist activities.

For a time Wednesday it was unclear whether the government would allow the ship to moor.

MSC Cruises said it received “formal and final authorization” to dock. But overnight, state Governor Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez of Quintana Roo, where Cozumel is located, contradicted the company, saying no authorization would be given until after a health review.

Welcome Home

In Miami, where the MSC Cruise originated, Port Director Juan Kuryla said at a press conference Thursday that the ship was welcome back based on current information.

Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also weighed in Thursday, reiterating that the ship could dock but saying an inspection was called for.

“We’re permitting it to dock, and there may be a disembarking of those on the ship,” Lopez Obrador said at his morning press conference in Mexico City. “We gave instructions for an inspection to be done and that they be allowed to arrive and stay. We can’t act with discrimination.”

— With assistance by Nacha Cattan

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Elizabeth Warren Calls for Border Wall Money to Be Redirected to Fight Coronavirus

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said that funds being used to construct the president’s border wall with Mexico should be redirected to help contain coronavirus, a quickly spreading epidemic with origins in China.

“I’m going to be introducing a plan tomorrow to take every dime that the president is now taking to spend on his racist wall at the southern border and divert it to the coronavirus,” the candidate said during a CNN town hall on Wednesday evening.

The senator also had harsh words for the president earlier in the week, posting tweets accusing him of “absolutely bungling” the United States’ response to the spreading virus. She accused Trump of “putting our public health and our economy at risk” and said that is “why we need a real plan and an adult in charge.”

Warren’s fellow candidates also criticized the president, who held a White House news conference — the first in a long while — with CDC officials earlier that same day. She has also released a plan to prevent, contain, and treat infectious disease in the U.S.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar took issue with Trump putting Vice President Mike Pence as lead on responding to coronavirus. “I would think usually you might put a medical professional in charge,” Klobuchar said. It’s also worth noting that during his time as governor of Indiana, Pence saw a widespread HIV outbreak in the state in 2015 due in part to his cutting Planned Parenthood funding that closed the only HIV testing center in one hard-hit county and his opposition to needle exchanges.



Candidate Michael Bloomberg released an ad accusing the president of leaving the government unprepared to deal with the epidemic, and during the town hall, former vice president Joe Biden referred to his experience in the Obama administration combatting Ebola. “Were I president now,” Biden said, “I’d insist that China allow our scientists in to make a hard determination of how it started, where it’s from, how far along it is. Because that is not happening now.”

At his press conference, Trump issued advice to Americans on how not to catch the virus. “I do it a lot, anyway, as you’ve probably heard: Wash your hands,” the president told reporters. “Stay clean. You don’t have to necessarily grab every handrail unless you have to. You know, you do certain things.”

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