There is a fake SMS message in circulation, which falsely claims to offer an application that will allow users to register for the COVID-19 vaccine in India. However, instead of providing a legitimate way to register for vaccination, the app aims to distribute malware via SMS once it is installed on a mobile device. The malicious application was originally called COVID-19, although it later received an update that renamed it the Vaccine Register. Attackers may be able to persuade users to install the app, as a large number of people face problems while registering for the COVID-19 vaccine through the official CoWIN portal.
ESET Malware Researcher, Cybersecurity Company, Lucas Stefanko tweet for the SMS message that requires users to download the app to sign up for COVID-19 vaccination. The message is aimed at Indian consumers and is designed in a way that presents itself as “registration without a vaccine against COVID-19”, according to the researcher.
However, the researcher said that the SMS message carries a link that installs a worm application, which essentially spreads via SMS to the victims’ contacts with the link to download the malware. The app also gets unnecessary permissions that attackers can use to acquire user data.
Although the application was originally called COVID-19, it was renamed to the Vaccine Registry and get a light mode to reach even more devices over time. It has also been found that there is support for connectivity with two SIM cards. This will allow the malware to spread using the first available operator available on the device.
Users are strongly advised to avoid any SMS messages that contain links asking them to download applications. It is also important to note that currently registrations for COVID-19 vaccines are made only through CoWIN portal as well as Aarogia Setu and Umang applications.
However, there are third party sites through which you can receive notifications when a punch slot is available. The government also provided an opportunity for find your nearest COVID-19 vaccination center using MyGov Corona Helpdesk chat bot.
The government extended the spread of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country last week by starting registrations by people aged 18-44. Vaccine registrations were previously open to people over the age of 45.