Healthcare, Technology

Cybersecurity: The Flip Side of The Coronavirus Pandemic

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

There were insinuations that coronavirus was an accident from a laboratory in Wuhan that was studying bat coronaviruses and then spread to the public, though, this has been debunked by the WHO. If indeed it had been, then the persons behind the evil plan did not take a lot of things including the cybersecurity impact into cognizance.

What would it have been like if, for an accident, the whole world was thrown into this mammoth amount of cybersecurity threats and attacks we have been experiencing? Sherrod DeGrippo, senior director of threat research and detection at Proofpoint was reported to have observed that the total volume of phishing emails and other security threats as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic now represents the largest coalescing of cyberattack types around a single issue that has been seen globally and maybe for a long time to come.

Check Point Threat Intelligence, revealed that since January 2020, there have been over 4,000 coronavirus-related domains registered globally. While 3% of the websites were found to be malicious, an additional 5% are suspicious. 

Check Point Threat Intelligence also pointed out based on hindsight that coronavirus-related domains are 50% more likely to be malicious than other domains registered in the same period and also higher than those that have been associated with seasonal occurrences such as Valentine’s Day.

Credit: Check Point

The most obvious thing behind crooks setting up all these domains will be to use them for phishing. Innocent and unsuspecting individuals who are very much afraid of the scourges, as well as ravages of the virus, can easily be lured to these websites especially when they are themed on coronavirus. 

Another thing these scam websites use to lure unsuspecting victims is the claim to sell face masks, vaccines, and home tests that can detect the virus. After all, a drowning person will cling to even a straw.

The novelty of COVID-19 and the unfortunate impact are enough to throw people off balance. Cybercriminals are very much aware of this fact and leverage this to perpetrate their evil plans. 

We had quite a number of deeply concerning campaigns that were strictly targeted at the critical healthcare, manufacturing, and pharmaceutical industries. There was also the campaign that originated from advanced persistent threat (APT) group TA505, this was the group that came up with the Locky ransomware strain and the Dridex banking Trojan – using coronavirus loads in a downloader campaign.

What we may experience with the COVID-19 pandemic will be the case of these hackers using APTs to level attacks at high-value targets, such as nation-states and large corporations. The ultimate goal in this situation will be the stealing of information over a long period of time, rather than simply “diving in” and leaving quickly. 

This does not, however, stop the activities of many black hat hackers who have been going for lower-level cyber assaults as the virus rages on.

Most people are going through quarantine-related measures which have necessitated that they work from home more than ever before and the evil geniuses are very much aware of this fact. This has led to more cybersecurity problems as hackers have taken notice and, therefore, go on to build phishing sites meant to throw people off guard and fraudulently acquire users’ credit card numbers by using official-looking domains.

In a warning that the COVID-19 fallout will lead to the next global pandemic which is starvation, WFP’s executive director David Beasley cautioned the UN Security Council that the risk of large-scale famine in much of the developing world was now “of biblical proportions” as a result of the global pandemic.

“While dealing with a COVID-19 pandemic, we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic,” Beasley told the council. “There is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself.”

The danger as envisaged by Beasley is starvation but the most potent danger is how cybercriminals are going to capitalize on the situation. What we have seen from the activities of these devil incarnates is that they don’t want to know if people are dying or are hungry, their sole aim is to carry out their dastardly acts.

While the world is embattled by all these, cybercriminals are upping and fine-tuning their games. They are so merciless to the extent that they await any misfortune to capitalize on.

As the world is in a deep crisis as a result of the pandemic with governments and organizations seeking a way out of this quagmire, it’s understandable if individuals go out to try an alternative. After all, coronavirus does not appear to spare anybody. 

This is the situation that cybercriminals utilize to play on the people’s helplessness. So, it won’t be wrong to say that the next most potent pandemic that is a fallout of coronavirus will be cybersecurity-related.

However hopeless the situation might be, you can still do one or two things to protect yourself. Ensure you double-check the website addresses you want to log into. Most times, they play on your intelligence by registering domains that are similar to the ones you know, however, look out for misspellings or anything else that seems slightly off.

This is not a good time to open up an email in a haste, you must be cautious and more so if it comes with attachments especially from a strange source. Nobody likes to waste money but this time around, stick to the old and trusted vendors you know even if the prices have gone up slightly higher, it’s better to lose some coins than to totally regret your actions at the end of the day. 

Buying from an email link can be a total disaster. If need be, google the product or service provider and purchase directly from them.

This may also be the right opportunity for you to subscribe to the services of a virtual private network (VPN) as a way of staying more protected. 

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About John Ejiofor

John Ejiofor is a curious life-researcher, whose quest to finding answers to life's pertinent questions has led to founding Nature Torch. This blog aims to debate and explore many questions about our earth -- including those a lot of people are uncomfortable with asking. He has been published on some of the internet's most respected websites, which you can find online.
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