With the spread of corona virus around the world, there has been a significant increase in cyber-attacks targeting home-based remote workforce. These attacks include phishing attacks that exploit the corona virus outbreak as well as false information campaigns and fake news on social networks.
During March, numerous warnings were issued by various government security agencies and private cyber security firms in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Spain and France, against the increase in phishing attacks, the number of cyber scams, and the spread of false information in light of the outbreak of the Corona virus. According to a report published by the Europol, hackers are using the crisis to carry out network scams, phishing attacks, and network sales of non-compliant medical equipment.
Cyber-security experts and companies have warned that hackers are taking advantage of the fact that many workers who have started working from home are not used to remote access tools and that they are not protected by corporate cyber security systems and teams. It was also found that between February and March, there was an increase in the number of phishing attacks, especially in countries badly impacted by the Corona virus such as Italy.
States have also begun to use the virus outbreak as part of campaigns of false information, espionage and cyber attacks. Studies released this month indicate that hackers from China, Russia and North Korea have impersonated the Foreign and Health Ministries of Mongolia, Ukraine and South Korea and exploited the Corona scare to distribute Trojans.
Furthermore, countries have also taken advantage of the crisis by disseminating false information and changing global narratives in favor of their national best interests. Lithuania warned that Russian hackers hacked content management systems on local media sites in order to disseminate false information that foreign soldiers from NATO alliance are spreading the corona virus in the country. A new study by the Stanford University Cyber Policy Center, brought to light China’s efforts to influence the global narrative on the Corona virus outbreak.
This month many cyber-attacks have occurred on healthcare organizations and institutions in several countries. The second-largest hospital in the Czech Republic, which also includes a corona research lab, experienced a ransomware attack and had to refer patients to nearby hospitals. In addition, the US Department of Health and Human Services, hospitals in Spain, US and UK medical research companies investigating vaccines, a Paris hospitals and the World Health Organization were also attacked.
Along with the increase in attacks, several attempts were made to deal with these threats. In the US, the attorney general has ordered swift legal action against hackers and entities disseminate false information related to the Corona virus. Social media companies have issued a joint declaration of intent to combat the dissemination of the corona virus false information and remove false content and other distributors’ accounts. About 400 cyber security experts from major tech companies such as Amazon and Microsoft in 40 different countries have formed a group called the Covid-19 CTI League, which aims to fight and help counter the rise in ransomware attacks against health care institutions and organizations against phishing attacks.
Special thanks and credits: Tel Aviv University, Blavantik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center, Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security Tel Aviv University.