Cyber criminals are increasingly setting up malicious websites tied to the video conferencing tool Zoom to target individuals during the coronavirus pandemic, researchers at software company Check Point found Monday.
The researchers reported a 25 percent increase in new websites using the Zoom name set up over the past week alone, with 1,700 new domains set up since the beginning of the year. Around 4 percent of these domains were judged to be “suspicious” and potentially dangerous to those who visited them.
“Online communication platforms have become essential for many households and organizations,” the researchers wrote in a blog post. “During the past few weeks, we have witnessed a major increase in new domain registrations with names including ‘Zoom,’ which is one of the most common video communication platforms used around the world.”
Omer Dembinsky, the manager of cyber research at Check Point, recommended in a statement that Zoom users “take an extra look” at any Zoom link or document sent to ensure “it’s not a trap.”
“We see a sharp rise in the number of ‘Zoom’ domains being registered, especially in the last week,” Dembinsky said. “The recent, staggering increase means that hackers have taken notice of the work-from-home paradigm shift that COVID-19 has forced, and they see it as an opportunity to deceive, lure and exploit.”
The researchers recommended that individuals be careful browsing online and pay attention to spelling errors in links and suspicious emails.
A spokesperson for Zoom told The Hill that the company "agrees with Check Point that users across all services and technology platforms should be cautious with emails, links or files received from unknown senders, and that users should take care to only click on authentic links or open attachments to known and trusted service providers."
The spokesperson emphasized that "Zoom users should be aware that links to our platform will only ever have a zoom.us or zoom.com domain name. Prior to clicking on a link, they should carefully review the URL, being mindful of lookalike domain names and spelling errors."
The company has seen a huge surge in use since the onset of the coronavirus crisis due to an increase in individuals working from home, with the company also seeing a major jump in share prices.
Zoom is not the only group to be targeted by cyber criminals looking to take advantage of the ongoing pandemic.
Phishing emails have spiked over the past two months, with hackers trying to target individuals by preying on coronavirus concerns. Attempted cyberattacks on federal agencies have also increased, with both the Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization reporting cyber incidents this month.
-Updated at 8:30 p.m.