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Second wave of Covid-19 cyber attacks locked in

More cyber attacks exploiting the pandemic seem likely, says Interpol

A further increase in cyber attacks exploiting the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic is highly likely in the near future, especially if there is substantial progress towards a vaccine, according to Interpol.

The organisation said that should a vaccine become available, it was highly probable that there will be a second spike in phishing attacks related to vaccines and other medical products, as well as network intrusion and other attacks to steal research data.

More widely, Interpol believes that vulnerabilities related to the increasingly lengthy period of remote working and the potential for increased financial benefit will see attacks targeting home workers become more frequent and more sophisticated.

Related to this, business email compromise (BEC) schemes will likely surge in the next few months thanks to the oncoming economic depression and the related shift in the business landscape.

The organisation said threat actors were also likely to continue to proliferate Covid-related scam campaigns to exploit public concern and fear of the virus.

“Cyber criminals are developing and boosting their attacks at an alarming pace, exploiting the fear and uncertainty caused by the unstable social and economic situation created by Covid-19,” said Interpol secretary general Jürgen Stock.

“The increased online dependency for people around the world is also creating new opportunities, with many businesses and individuals not ensuring their cyber defences are up to date.

“The report’s findings again underline the need for closer public-private sector cooperation if we are to effectively tackle the threat Covid-19 also poses to our cyber health,” said Stock.

Like other law enforcement agencies and cyber security outfits, Interpol has been tracking the impact of Covid-19 on cyber crime for some time. Its full report – which contains input from across its different member countries – looks in depth at phishing and scams, malware and ransomware, data theft, malicious domains and misinformation during the pandemic.

It also sets out a number of priorities and recommendations for national law enforcement to tackle cyber crime during the pandemic.

These include enabling timely information sharing across the Interpol global network, particularly when it comes to threats against critical national infrastructure, government bodies; enhancing police collaboration and cooperation to address cross-border threats; implementing public safety campaigns – Interpol has been running its own campaign called #WashYourCyberHands since May; training law enforcement personnel on cyber threats; strengthening partnerships with the private sector; and developing and implementing a national cyber crime strategy.

“Interpol is taking proactive steps and all relevant measures to support member countries in an unprecedented crisis. It is also preparing for the post Covid-19 threat landscape,” the organisation said.

“The pandemic has created pivotal opportunities to reflect on current capabilities and resources for improvement to achieve better preparedness and resilience for any future shocks. Finally, the global pandemic has proved the importance of a global response in a collaborative and coordinated manner.

“The most urgent priority to address these growing cyber threats is to further enhance international police cooperation for operational activities and to improve cyber crime information exchange with diverse partners within the global ecosystem of cyber security.”

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