How Covid-19 has changed the cyber-threat landscape

Even before Covid-19 the cybersecurity threat landscape was evolving at a frightening pace.  The combination of people spending more time online and their uncertainty around the elements of the pandemic and its consequences has played right into the hands of cybercriminals.  Now threat actors are taking full advantage of Covid-19 with a vast portfolio of scams, including ransomware and phishing campaigns.

Covid-19 precautions of one form or another are here for the long term, and whilst they do we must continue remain on high alert and increase our cybersecurity safeguards.  So what are the most common threats?

Sextortion email scams – where cybercriminals try to extort money from victims by threatening to reveal scandalous information. Often the email contains the victim’s username and password, possibly obtained during a data breach, and demand a payment via a Bitcoin transfer in exchange for not revealing “your secrets.” Recently emails have also claimed to be able to infect the victim’s whole family with Coronavirus.

Fake news – has increased in the wake of the pandemic. These include products that claim to cure, treat, or prevent Covid-19. Similarly, conspiracy theories that claim Covid-19 is a hoax and rumors about the origin of the pandemic.

Phishing Campaigns – Cybercriminals impersonated credible organizations, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) or Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to get recipients to click malicious links or attachments. Phishing emails are often easy to spot because of poor grammar, threatening call to action, suspicious sender, but in these unsettling and unprecedented times, it is easier to get victims to visit sites they wouldn’t otherwise visit, or click without the same level of forethought. There has been a significant increase in coronavirus-themed domains being registered, so there will be plenty of dodgy sites ready to catch out the unsuspecting.

Some cybercriminals continued to attack the healthcare sector, specifically ransomware campaigns including REvil/Sodinokibi, which exploits gateway and VPN vulnerabilities to gain entry into target organizations.

The most prolific threat actors are script kiddies, professional hackers, and state-sponsored hackers – all posing a significant threat to business security.  There had been an increase in the number of threads, items offered for sale, and hacking information related to Covid-19 in dark web forums.

What Next?
Cybercriminals will persistently capitalise on the distraction caused by Covid-19. Global organizations have a lot to deal with at the moment, juggling employee safety with business continuity and in a lot of cases decreased revenue.  However, now more than ever, it is vital that businesses continue to make cybersecurity one of their top priorities.

The good news is that many larger organisations are planning to increase their spending on cybersecurity due to Covid-19, but in every organization individuals must remain vigilant for nefarious Covid-19-related activity. There are many resources that organisations and individuals can use to combat these threats so contact us to find out how we can help you stay safe. Cybercriminals are not pausing, so neither are we.

Contact us or call us on 0845 625 9025 to find out how we can help you protect your enterprise with cybersecurity.