COVID-19 Phishing Lures Still Working for Cyber Adversaries

COVID-19-themed cyberattacks are ongoing and now focused on big corporations, governments, and critical infrastructure. According to a recent report, the COVID-19 pandemic was a core element in phishing campaigns in 2020.

What has been observed

Besides hacking attacks, recent incidents also involve manipulation of stolen documents in an attempt to raise doubts about the vaccine and the work of the EMA.
  • Recently, the European Medicines Agency disclosed that threat actors had manipulated the emails and documents related to the evaluation of experimental COVID-19 vaccines before leaking them online.
  • In late-2020, the EMA was targeted by a cyberattack, and after a few weeks, some of the COVID-19 documents submitted to EMA by Pfizer and BioNTech were leaked online by the attackers.

In the last two months, the major sectors affected by coronavirus-themed attacks are healthcare, government, and financial services. In fact, North America, South-east Asia, and Europe were amongst the most affected regions.

More attacks

  • Two weeks ago, multiple Indian websites belonging to government departments, including national health and welfare agencies, were leaking thousands of patients’ COVID-19 lab test results online.
  • Additionally, scammers were found to be using social engineering emails and messaging apps to lure victims with fake claims that they can deliver COVID-19 shots within days for a price tag of $150.
  • Last month, Pitkin County in the U.S. state of Colorado became aware of potential unauthorized access to a file including information regarding COVID-19 case investigations and contact tracing.

Conclusion

Cybercriminals are likely to continue their coronavirus-themed attacks taking advantage of public concern regarding the pandemic. Therefore, experts suggest organizations encrypt sensitive data, segregate networks, provide training to identify phishing emails, and stay alert while surfing online.

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