According to INTERPOL, cybercriminals are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic, boosting cyberattacks at an alarming pace.
Learn more about their key findings, and what they are projecting will happen in the near future!
COVID-19 Pandemic : New Opportunities For Cyberattacks!
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organisations and businesses to rapidly deploy remote work systems and networks to support staff working from home
Cybercriminals are taking advantage of these new COVID-19 work-from-home normals, targeting staff of major corporations, governments and critical infrastructure to steal data and generate profits.
Online Scams + Phishing
Threat actors have revised their usual online scams and phishing schemes. By deploying COVID-19 themed phishing emails, often impersonating government and health authorities, cybercriminals entice victims into providing their personal data and downloading malicious content.
Around two-thirds of member countries which responded to the global cybercrime survey reported a significant use of COVID-19 themes for phishing and online fraud since the outbreak.
Ransomware + DDoS
Cybercriminals are increasingly using disruptive malware against critical infrastructure and healthcare institutions, due to the potential for high impact and financial benefit.
In the first two weeks of April 2020, there was a spike in ransomware attacks by multiple threat groups which had been relatively dormant for the past few months.
Law enforcement investigations show the majority of attackers estimated quite accurately the maximum amount of ransom they could demand from targeted organisations.
Data Harvesting Malware
Taking advantage of the increased demand for medical supplies and information on COVID-19, there has been a significant increase of cybercriminals registering domain names containing keywords, such as “coronavirus” or “COVID”. These fraudulent websites underpin a wide variety of malicious activities including C2 servers, malware deployment and phishing.
From February to March 2020, a 569 per cent growth in malicious registrations, including malware and phishing and a 788 per cent growth in high-risk registrations were detected and reported to INTERPOL by a private sector partner.
An increasing amount of misinformation and fake news is spreading rapidly among the public. Unverified information, inadequately understood threats, and conspiracy theories have contributed to anxiety in communities and in some cases facilitated the execution of cyberattacks.
Nearly 30 per cent of countries which responded to the global cybercrime survey confirmed the circulation of false information related to COVID-19. Within a one-month period, one country reported 290 postings with the majority containing concealed malware. There are also reports of misinformation being linked to the illegal trade of fraudulent medical commodities.
Other cases of misinformation involved scams via mobile text-messages containing ‘too good to be true’ offers such as free food, special benefits, or large discounts in supermarkets.
INTERPOL : Projection Of Future COVID-19 Cyberattacks
Here are INTERPOL’s projection of future COVID-19 cyberattacks :
- A further increase in cybercrime is highly likely in the near future. Vulnerabilities related to working from home and the potential for increased financial benefit will see cybercriminals continue to ramp up their activities and develop more advanced and sophisticated modi operandi.
- Threat actors are likely to continue proliferating coronavirus-themed online scams and phishing campaigns to leverage public concern about the pandemic.
- Business Email Compromise schemes will also likely surge due to the economic downturn and shift in the business landscape, generating new opportunities for criminal activities.
- When a COVID-19 vaccination is available, it is highly probable that there will be another spike in phishing related to these medical products as well as network intrusion and cyberattacks to steal data.
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