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Hackers during this pandemic

Pandemic Breeds More Sophisticated Malicious Hackers

Jordan Shanks
2 min read
August 17, 2020
This post covers:Cyber Security | Phishing | Security Tips | Remote Workforce


In the age of COVID-19, Attacks are Rampant

For most of us, the global pandemic is threat enough—but managed security service providers like Locknet® Managed IT are seeing a huge uptick in cyberthreats including attacks by malicious hackers. Recent industry reports also show how cybercriminals are leveraging pandemic fears to take advantage of unsuspecting users. These threats are so prevalent, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently issued an alert in conjunction with the United Kingdom National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). In that alert, the agencies provided information about how groups are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic for criminal purposes.

Attacks target groups of all sizes

The CISA and NCSC warn that these cybercriminals and advanced persistent threat (APT) groups are targeting groups of all sizes, including individuals, small and medium sized businesses and even large organizations with scams and phishing emails that capitalize on the COVID-19 pandemic. They also warn that the increase in teleworking has led to an uptick in the use of services which can be vulnerable to attack, such as virtual private networks (VPNs).

Types of attacks leveraging COVID-19

The nature of the attacks and malicious activity online are quickly changing and fast moving, so it is nearly impossible to encapsulate all of them. However, threats to date have included phishing emails with coronavirus-related messaging as well as malicious applications. Hackers and cybercriminals are increasingly more sophisticate, to the point where they can even issue communications that appear to originate from a trusted, reputable source, when in fact it may contain ransomware or other malicious attacks.

Here are some of the attacks we're seeing so far:

  • Malware with COVID-19 themed messaging
  • Attacks against teleworkers and a business's teleworking infrastructure
  • Exploitation of teleworking infrastructure, in particular known vulnerabilities to VPNs and tools specific to remote work.
  • Phishing emails that use coronavirus-related communications to gather valuable information, with subject lines such as: Coronavirus Updates, or 2019-nCOV: New confirmed cases in your City. The call to action within the email sometimes drives victims to a website that gathers valuable financial, personal or log in data.
  • Registration of domain names that include terms related to coronavirus or COVID-19
  • Social engineering methods that get users to take action, such as opening a file, clicking on a link or downloading malicious programs. These phishing attacks are sometimes aimed at harvesting credentials, such as log in information to reputable sites.
  • Communications from seemingly authentic, trusted sources, such as the World Health Organization. Some lead to webpages that are patterned after legitimate sites, making it difficult for even the trained eye to detect.
  • SMS phishing, done by text message, has also been seen. Some have been known to harvest email addresses, personal information and banking info.

Fighting cyberattack is easier with the right partner

Cyberattacks are ever-changing, and cyber criminals are crafty. But you don't have to be a victim. You need someone on your side who is working to protect you and shore up existing vulnerabilities, so that your business stays safe. From malware to phishing to ransomware and hacks, Locknet® Managed IT can protect you from the worst of the cyberscape, and ensure your team has the knowledge they need to remain vigilant—no matter where they're working from. Contact us to discuss how we can help protect you from the latest threats in the digital landscape.

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