Cybercrime and Covid-19: Preying on Fear

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Guest Post | May 2, 2020

Cybersecurity checklist - Cybercrime and Covid-19: Preying on Fear

For months the coronavirus pandemic has been affecting the world, the economy, and our daily lives. With this has come an uptick in some unexpected and negative situations including cybercrime.

Cybercrime certainly isn’t a new concept for businesses, but increasingly organizations, including the World Health Organization, are the target of hackers, and all businesses are trying to prevent a data breach in trying and unprecedented times.

There was a recent report from Europol that indicated cybercriminals are using coronavirus to their advantage in different ways, including the carrying out of DNS hijacking attacks that target not only businesses but home wireless routers.

The following are some things to know about cybercrime in the era of covid-19.

Remote Work

One of the biggest issues in terms of cybersecurity right now is the fact that much of the world’s employees are working remotely.

Employees don’t have the same cybersecurity resources as are available when they’re working onsite, and they might not be well-versed on best practices when working from home either.

DNS Attacks

Specifically at issue right now, among other cybersecurity threats are DNS attacks, which were touched on above.

According to current research, cybercriminals are using personal Wi-Fi routers as their point of attack.

Attackers change the Domain Name System settings in Linksys routers, and then users are directed to what appears to them to be a legitimate website. The website will also have information about the pandemic.

Then, once someone clicks through these illegitimate sites, they might have a fake app downloaded that has malware.

When people are working from and their DNS router is compromised, then it could be especially problematic. Employees could unknowingly give away their business login credentials and files. They could also without realizing it let attackers dial into their company’s infrastructure from remotely.

Beginning from March 18, there were attacks launched that redirected visitors from websites, including Disney, Reddit, and Amazon Web Services.

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It was an issue around the world, but primarily in the United States and Germany.

DNS hijacking is tough to spot because when you’re the victim of these kinds of attacks, you think you’ve landed on the page you meant to visit.

The difference is that the site is being served by a different IP address.

Similarly, there have been reports of cybercriminals who pretend they are the World Health Organization and that they have a Covid-19 app for people to install.

From February to March of this year, reports of malicious cyber activity involve coronavirus went up five-fold.

Other Covid-Related Threats

These DNS attacks aren’t the only issue.

For example, spam is becoming a growing problem. As more people are working online and from home, there are problems with spam because of the use of sharing software, file attachments, and online tools used to facilitate remote work.

There are also issues where scammers are using coronavirus as a way to hook their victims.

They’ll make people think they need money for some reason dealing with the pandemic.

Also, there are reported issues where scammers are pretending to be health organizations or are saying they are relief groups, and they ask for financial donations in bitcoin.

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When people order things online, they may see lately they take longer than they would typically and this is another area being exploited by cybercriminals.

They are sending spam emails that people believe are legitimately related to their online orders. The attachments in these emails will include shipping updates or notices about shipping postponement, but the attachment has malware.

Ransomware issues have been found in which the variant is actually called CoronaVirus.

There has been a lot of talk by politicians and health officials about the potential to track coronavirus cases using mobile technology, and since then there have been mobile ransomware attacks.

There are malicious apps that are supposed to be used to track cases of covid-19. When someone falls prey to this attack their phone may be locked by the ransomware and they may have to pay money in bitcoin to unlock it again.

All of this may mean that cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion by 2021. This is up from $3 trillion in 2015.

According to CISO Magazine, cybercrime will be more profitable than the entirety of all major illegal drug trade in the world.

Organizations are being encouraged to prioritize cybersecurity right now, and this includes training employees and making them aware of key threats and how to avoid them, particularly as it relates to phishing scams. Many organizations may have to increase their spending on cybersecurity in the coming months.

 


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