Cyber Criminals take advantage of Coronavirus

Since mid-February, staff at Israel’s cyber-technology firm Check Point have observed a dramatic increase in the number of cyber attacks related to the coronavirus. In previous months there had been a decline in such attacks

Check Point says that the number of attacks has increased from a few hundred each day to more than 5,000 by 28th March, lifting the average to more than 2,600 attacks per day.

Detailed computing codePhoto by AFP / Philippe HUGUEN

A similar situation has been noticed in America, where a cyber expert in counter-terrorism says his firm has seen an 800 percent increase in calls since the coronavirus pandemic has forced many people to work from home.

He said that this situation is ‘heaven’ as far as the criminals are concerned, because many remote connections are not secure.

The attacks often come as phishing emails that try to trick people into opening them because they look as if they come from a trusted contact or concern an important subject (like the coronavirus).

One of the organisations being falsely represented by criminals is the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It has posted a warning on its website urging people to verify the authenticity of anyone who makes contact in the name of the WHO.

The WHO says it will:

  • never ask for your username or password to access safety information
  • never email attachments you didn’t ask for
  • never ask you to visit a link outside of www.who.int
  • never charge money to apply for a job, register for a conference, or reserve a hotel
  • never conduct lotteries or offer prizes, grants, certificates or funding through email.

And in the UK, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has also warned of cyber criminals preying on people’s fears of the coronavirus, often by sending scam emails that try to trick them into clicking on a bad link.

The NCSC also provides guidance on what to do when someone has clicked on such a link.