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Coronavirus face masks: Dark web drug dealers rush to meet demand

Cyber criminals are exploiting the demand for hygiene equipment to sell potentially counterfeit products alongside drugs listings.

This photo illustration taken on January 28, 2020 shows protective face masks in Bangkok. - Thailand has detected 14 cases so far of the novel coronavirus, a virus similar to the SARS pathogen, an outbreak which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: Cyber criminals are now selling face masks instead of drugs on dark web marketplaces. File photo.
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微信斗牛要从哪里拉人cyber criminals are now selling potentially counterfeit surgical face masks on dark web marketplaces in a rush to exploit the supply shortage resulting from the outbreak in china.

微信斗牛要从哪里拉人the face mask listings were detected by risk management company digital shadows on english-language marketplace empire, which is known for selling illegal drugs and hacking equipment.

微信斗牛要从哪里拉人pictures featured in the listings show plain masks without the advanced respirators capable of filtering small virus particles, although it isn't clear whether these images are legitimate.

Coronavirus masks listed for sale on the dark web. Pic: Digital Shadows
Image: Coronavirus masks listed for sale on the dark web. Pic: Digital Shadows

The disease caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19, has now infected more than 156,000 people worldwide, driving demand for normal surgical face masks despite the lack of evidence微信斗牛要从哪里拉人 they prevent transmission.

digital shadows identified a number of criminal enterprises attempting to exploit this demand, including on dark web marketplaces which are specifically referencing covid-19 to market their goods.

one listing offers to sell boxes of 2,000 surgical face masks for $6,500 (£5,300) each, pricing an individual mask at $3.25 (£2.65).

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another supplier based in ukraine claimed to be able to manufacture 200,000 masks every two to three weeks - rates that would almost certainly impact the quality of the masks themselves.

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微信斗牛要从哪里拉人"vendors like these typically engage in the sale of illicit drugs, but have clearly seen a market opportunity to branch out into medical equipment," the company reported.

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even away from the dark web, digital shadows found hundreds of websites had been registered and set-up on the open web within the past few weeks offering heavily discounted face masks.

微信斗牛要从哪里拉人there is a huge risk that these products are counterfeit, but in some cases the masks potentially don't even exist at all - and once enough consumers have handed over their money, the website will simply disappear.

According to the UK's national fraud intelligence bureau, British people have been swindled out of more than £800,000 微信斗牛要从哪里拉人by attempting to buy masks from fake sellers.

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Coronavirus: The infection numbers in real time

cyber criminal gangs are also targeting healthcare professionals with phishing emails about "coronavirus awareness" - part of a wave of scams capitalising on the pandemic.

Sky News has seen a copy of an email scam sent to a number of healthcare organisations微信斗牛要从哪里拉人 that pretends to be from each firm's internal IT team.

the email - which has the subject "all staff: corona virus awareness" - tells employees that "the institution is currently organising a seminar for all staff to talk about this deadly virus", asking them to click on a link to register.

the link takes anyone clicking on it to a third-party website disguised as an outlook web app. anyone who fills in that form ends up giving their details to the hackers.

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微信斗牛要从哪里拉人digital shadows reported similar findings about phishing campaigns using covid-19 as a lure.

it said: "health organisations such as the who and us centers for disease control and prevention (cdc) have been prime targets for impersonation due to their perceived authority."

"attackers have been observed tempting victims with urls or document downloads using promises of important safety documentation or infection maps," the company added, noting that the topic had been a popular discussion point on cyber crime forums.

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