COVID-19 pandemic delivers extraordinary array of cyber security challenges

April 23, 2020

The Coronavirus has prompted thousands of information security professionals to volunteer their skills in upstart collaborative efforts aimed at frustrating cybercriminals who are seeking to exploit the crisis for financial gain. As the COVID-19 outbreak threatens to overload the healthcare system and the global economy, it’s also having a powerful impact on the security of businesses and individuals. At least three major industry groups are working to counter the latest cyber threats and scams. Among the largest in terms of contributors is the COVID-19 Cyber Threat Coalition (CTC), which comprises rough 3,000 security professionals who are collecting, vetting and sharing new intelligence about new cyber threats. 


Students are protesting plans by the Australian National University (ANU) to enforce the use of remote monitoring software on their home systems for exams during the COVID-19 pandemic. Proctorio is at the heart of the controversy. The platform is touted as a “comprehensive learning integrity platform” and a means to “secure remote exams.”

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WHO Chief Information Security Officer Flavio Aggio said the identity of the hackers was unclear and the effort was unsuccessful. But he warned that hacking attempts against the agency and its partners have soared as they battle to contain the coronavirus, which has killed more than 15,000 worldwide. The attempted break-in at the WHO was first flagged to Reuters by Alexander Urbelis, a cybersecurity expert and attorney with the New York-based Blackstone Law Group, which tracks suspicious internet domain registration activity.

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In the midst of a global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, hackers are not letting a disaster go to waste and have now automated their coronavirus-related scams to industrial levels. According to multiple reports, cybercriminals are now creating and putting out thousands of coronavirus-related websites on a daily basis.  Most of these sites are being used to host phishing attacks, distribute malware-laced files, or for financial fraud, for tricking users into paying for fake COVID-19 cures, supplements, or vaccines.

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s the number of cyber criminals targeting remote workers grows, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has kicked off a new effort to encourage people to report suspicious emails in an attempt to crack down on fraudsters and phishing scams. The coronavirus pandemic has led to record numbers of organisations requiring people to work from home – and in many cases, those employees haven’t had any previous experience of working remotely and could be unaware of some of the potential security risks.

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Victims in the United Kingdom have lost more than £800,000 (US$1 million) to coronavirus-linked scams since last month, with criminals tricking fearful people who wanted to buy protective masks. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) said there had been 21 reports of fraud since Feb 10, many of which involved scams over masks, with one victim paying £15,000 for masks that never arrived.

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