The recent COVID-19 outbreak greatly affects not just business operations but human lives, in general. Aside from its obvious devastating impact, the ongoing pandemic has also sparked a threat among smartphone users as hackers are taking advantage of the situation to steal people’s personal information.
In Iran, the citizens are currently facing a cybersecurity issue that is allegedly caused by the Ministry of Health.
The VICE News reported that the health department tracks people’s private information, especially real-time location data (which is unnecessary for the diagnosis).
Iranians received a nationwide text message from the bureau: “Dear compatriots, before going to the hospital or health center, install and use this software to determine if you or your loved ones have been infected with the coronavirus.”
The notice is about the government’s “coronavirus anti-virus program” called the AC19 that aims to identify whether or not a person is COVID-free. It can be downloaded through an Iranian app store called Cafe Bazaar.
Moreover, the app will ask a series of YES or NO questions about a person’s current health status, then click “submit” to finish the online assessment and the diagnosis will be shown in a matter of seconds.
Speaking to VICE News, London-based Iranian security researcher Nariman Gharib, says that the collected location data is “not a one-off thing”. Since the app uses a similar Android library used in fitness apps to track movement “They can actually track you. If you move your device from location A to B, they can actually see that in real-time.”
According to the ICT minister MJ Azari Jahromi, the number of Iran’s citizens who downloaded the app has probably reached 3.5 million.
The Internet plays an important role in news and information, but clicking on suspicious links—whether it’s an ad or a social media posts—may cost you money or worse, leak your personal data. So, always be careful before you click on any random link.
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