The top cyber security agencies in the United States and Britain on Wednesday issued a cautionary warning that cybercriminals are stepping up attacks on health care groups and those working from home during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) United Kingdom noted in that warning Such attacks often involve dangerous phishing emails or ransomware attacks, where the attacker locks the system and demands payment to give the user more access.
“As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to grow, evil actors use these difficult times to exploit and take advantage of the public and business,” CISA Assistant Director Bryan Ware said in a statement.
Cybercriminals often use the language coronavirus to lure people into clicking links in malicious e-mails or texts, or send e-mails that appear to come from agents such as the World Health Organization (WHO) to deceive people into thinking they are revealing sensitive information to trusted sources.
NCSC Operations Director Paul Chichester warned in a statement that “malicious cyber actors adjusted their tactics to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic, and NCSC worked around the clock with its partners to respond.”
Chichester strongly advises people to turn to “trusted sources of information” for details about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, such as the government website or the UK National Health Service.
Both agencies highlighted the dangers of the new phenomenon of “Zoom bombing,” where hackers can gain access to meetings on the Zoom video conferencing platform or through the Microsoft Team and interfere with them through un watched software.
Hackers also targeted the infrastructure used by millions of people in the US and the US to work from home during the pandemic, with agents reporting high scans of virtual private networks (VPNs), which are used to help employees access office information at home.
While cybercriminals are stepping up attacks now, agencies are hoping these efforts will intensify.
“It is hoped that the frequency and severity of cyber attacks related to COVID-19 will increase over the coming weeks and months,” the agency noted.
Ware stressed that “we urge everyone to remain vigilant of these threats, look for suspicious e-mails and find reliable sources for information and updates on COVID-19. We are all together and collectively we can help defend ourselves from these threats. “
The warning came after agencies including WHO and the Department of Health and Human Services targeted by hackers, and after experts say they have see a big spike in dangerous emails during the coronavirus crisis.
CISA issued guidelines in March detailing important work during the pandemic, including those working to defend critical systems and health care organizations from cyber attacks.
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