How is COVID-19 affecting the Cyber Security Industry?

As we delve deeper into the Coronavirus Pandemic, Cyber Security firms are seeing a massive increase in COVID-19 themed spoofed websites and phishing attacks.

COVID-19 has opened many doors of opportunity for cybercriminals. With the majority of the world in isolation, millions of people want to keep as up to date as possible while they’re locked away. Criminals are taking advantage of this pandemic by creating COVID-19 malicious content, and Cyber Security firms are battling to keep up.

Written on April 3, 2020 by Xeinadin Group

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What to look out for…

Coronavirus Related Phishing Attacks and Spoofed Websites

Cyber Security experts have seen a huge spike in COVID-19 related phishing attacks and spoofed websites. Attackers are attempting to trick users with emails offering cheap or free Coronavirus tests and providing fake ‘infection-tracking’ information. With the majority of the UK in lockdown attackers have also been creating fake daily updates purporting to be from the Government.

The phishing attacks and spoofed websites all aim to trick users into clicking malicious links or providing personal information.

Fake Financial Advice

Thousands of businesses have been forced to close across the UK during the lockdown, leaving millions of people with financial worries. Criminals have been targeting the millions of people affected by creating phishing emails and fake websites offering financial advice to trick users into clicking malicious links and providing personal information.

The UK must only be listening to financial advice from the Government, their HR teams or from trusted financial experts like Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert website.

Spear-Phishing Attacks

With businesses across the UK either temporarily closing, forcing their team to work from home or furloughing their employees during the lockdown, there has been a huge increase in communication via email which provides a great opportunity for criminals to target businesses. Purporting to be legitimate hierarchy such as the Managing Directors , HR representatives or office managers, criminals are on high alert and there has been a huge increase in email borne attacks. As always, it is critical for both the employee and the business that all emails are treated with caution as the smallest mistake could affect both you and the business. If at any time you receive a suspicious email from a member of your team, find a second way of contacting them to confirm it is legitimate.

Service Sales and Online Offers

With the entire country on lockdown, millions of people are finding themselves bored and eager for new content. Criminals have jumped at this opportunity by flooding thousands of inboxes with emails purporting to be from popular streaming services and online retailers such as Netflix, Amazon and many more.

Since the lockdown was announced, a brand-new streaming service called Disney+ has become available to the UK. The new streaming service has already soared in popularity during the pandemic with millions of people in the UK signing up in the first week. Criminals have seen this as a major opportunity to send fake emails offering free trails and cheap subscriptions in order to trick users into clicking on malicious links and entering personal information including debit or credit card information.

It is imperative that the UK handle all emails in their inboxes with caution.

Android Malware

Android users need to be wary of a brand-new malware called CovidLock making its way around thousands of devices. COVID-19 related text and WhatsApp messages have been used to spread a link to a malicious website which provides users with a download to a ‘Coronavirus Tracker’ application which promises to inform users when a potential Coronavirus carrier is within the devices’ vicinity. What the application actually does is immediately begin encrypting data on the device and threatens to delete the data unless the user pays a ransom.

This type malware is called Ransomware, similar to the WannaCry virus which infected the NHS in 2018. This malware however is not as threatening as the WannaCry virus as the writers of this malware very stupidly embedded the key required to unlock the data within the code of the virus.

If you are a victim of the CovidLock virus try entering the key: 4865083501 .

If this is not successful it is imperative you DO NOT pay the ransom. Paying the ransom does not ensure your data will be decrypted and only benefits the criminals, helping to fund their criminal organisations and their malicious campaigns.

False WhatsApp messages

WhatsApp is the most popular application in the world for communication. With millions of people crammed into groups where messages can be forwarded from chat-to-chat, criminals have seen this as a great place to spread false information and links to spoofed websites.

Hundreds of reports of fake messages claiming to be from Nurses on the frontline of the Coronavirus battle have been reported to Action Fraud. These messages have included false advice on how to protect yourself from COVID-19 and WhatsApp has been the app favourited to send these via.

What you must do…

With the majority of the UK now working from home, it is imperative that you understand the risks and know how to help protect both yourself and your business from a successful cyber-attack.

Handle all emails with caution, read them twice and double check the senders address. The smallest sense of suspicion must be handled, do not take any chances.

Use only trusted sources for COVID-19 and Coronavirus related information, Financial advice and lockdown information.

Make sure your devices are all up to date, this ensures that all of the latest security updates and patches are installed, protecting your devices and data from known malware and vulnerabilities.

For more information and guidance make sure to visit the Cyber Wise website where you can find articles on all of the latest security threats and tips on how to stay protected.

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