Some say that the outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in people hating crime. Others argue that criminal activities are going on despite the pandemic.
Prolific and opportunistic criminals are taking advantage of it to attack government institutions, organisations and individuals, according to the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL).
Investigation show that known malware, formerly relatively dormant, have been detected since the pandemic.
Though these cyber threats are constantly evolving, some of the latest threats identified include malicious domains, online scams and phishing, data harvesting malware, disruptive malware (ransomware and DDos).
Undercover investigation by INTERPOL revealed that there has been an increase of domains registered with the key words ‘COVID’ or ‘Corona’ to take advantage of the growing number of people searching for information about COVID-19.
Many of these are considered to be developed with malicious intent.
As at the end of March 2020, there were 2,022 malicious and 40,261 high risk newly registered domains, according to Palo Alto Networks.
INTERPOL also revealed that cyber criminals are creating fake websites related to COVID-19 to entice victims into opening malicious attachments or clicking phishing links, resulting in identifying impersonation or illegal access to personal accounts.
Also, Trend Micro, the global leader in enterprise data security and cybersecurity solutions reports that that nearly one million spam messages have been linked to COVID-19 since January 2020.
The international criminal police organisation has warned that business online compromise has become the scheme of choice, involving the spoofing of supplier and client E-mail addresses or the use of nearly identical E-mail addresses to conduct attacks.
With more attention being paid to the spread of the deadly virus, all have been advised not to let their guards down, as data harvesting malware, such as, Remote Access Trojan, info stealers spyware and banking Trojans infiltrate systems, using COVID-19 related information as a lure to compromise networks, steal data, divert money and build botnets.
Cyber criminals are deploying disruptive malware like ransomware against critical infrastructure and response institutions, such as hospitals and medical centers, which are overwhelmed with health crisis.
Such ransomware do not typically aim to steal information, but hinder accessing critical data anddisrupt systems.
As the number of people relying on online tools increase, they put pressure on security measures in place.
Offenders search for more chances of exposure to steal data, make a profit or cause disruption.
INTERPOL states that cyber threats facing individuals, businesses and critical infrastructure will continue to evolve, causing harm globally, following the rapidly changing social and economic circumstances.
Further increases in cyber crime will occur, as criminals look for other revenue streams by leveraging the cyber elements of other types of crime.
Online scams and phishing will surge due to the economic downturn and shift in busviness landscape, generating new criminal activities.
Governments, businesses and schools will come to rely on online connectivity and virtual communications tools, as employees continue to work from home, increasing their vulnerabilities and presenting more opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit.
But in the wake of all these, INTERPOLS’s global cybercrime programme is developing and leading the global law enforcement response against cyber threats.
Accordingly, the international security agency uses purple notices to alert member countries to emerging and high risk cyber threats, provides technical guidance to victim organisations for their recovery efforts and conducts a global cybercrime survey to better understand the rapidly evolving global situation.
Interpol is also working with online cyber security communities and holding emergency services with a variety of stakeholders to provide tailored services to member countries for prevention, detection and investigation of cybercrime units, the Interpol Global Cybercrime Expert Group and its sector
The writer is a freelance journalist based in Toronto, Canada,