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"Cybercriminals were quick to realize many years ago that people fall prey to hot topics," says Costin Raiu, Director of Global Research & Analysis, Kaspersky. And today's hottest topic is the pandemic.
Chapter 2 of hacker:HUNTER ha(ck)c1ne explores COVID-related phishing attacks, known as spear-phishing. These attacks skyrocketed by nearly seven times between February and March this year.
Hack the news
Cybercriminals published fake news saying Facebook would be handing out free money to everyone affected by COVID-19. On a site cleverly disguised to look like Facebook, you fill out a form that shares personal data like your address, social security number or a photo of your ID. You get a confirmation message that your application has been accepted and sit back and wait for the money to arrive. It never will.
You've got mail
It's not just people like us who criminals are targeting - organizations are hit too. At work, you get sent an email you think is from someone you know or your manager. But when you click on a link or open an attachment, it downloads malicious software opening the door for hackers to access the corporate network. They download data to sell on the dark web, or encrypt it via ransomware and force the business to pay the ransom to stop it from being leaked.
Keep it safePhoto by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash
Criminals have the resources to hit everyone, from society's most vulnerable people to lucrative targets like big businesses and government. "Clearly the world is not as safe as we would like it to be. We're surrounded by all kinds of new and different threats," explains Zak Doffman, Founder and CEO of Digital Barriers. "The access to COVID treatments is a nation-state wide competitive advantage."
In the face of this influx of threats, more kudos to the people keeping us and our data safe, like the Cyber Volunteers 19. To keep yourself safe, Kaspersky Daily serves up advice on spotting and protecting yourself from the Facebook grants scam.
On September 9, in a hospital in Dusseldorf, Germany, a patient died from a virus. It wasn't what you might think: the hospital was hit by ransomware, infecting 30 servers before causing a total system shutdown, leading to the loss of her life. Yet this was a random act of chaos: the hackers misfired, they intended to infiltrate a nearby university.
This attack was fatal, but not unexpected. Attacks on hospitals and other health organizations have dramatically increased during the pandemic. When they hit, they can cost lives. Hospitals often have limited cybersecurity, making them vulnerable to attacks. In March, the University Hospital Brno, Czech Republic, faced a similar attack, fortunately, with no casualties.
For the latest hacker episode:HUNTER, we spoke to hospital staff to understand how ransomware attacks could harm patients.
Where there’s panic, there’s cybercrime
During the peak of pandemic information overload, COVID-19-themed cyberattacks spiked to a million a day in early March. Attacks targeting people access systems remotely – such as phishing, malicious websites, and malware - increased by a staggering 300 times during 2020.
Craig Jones, Director of Cybercrime at Interpol, explains: "Since March, the levels of work have ramped up. I've never known a period like it, not just at Interpol but also during my law enforcement experience." Check out Interpol's advice to protect yourself against Covid-19 cyberthreats.
So what can we do in a world where cybercriminals seem to be one step ahead of us? Hunting down the hackers is no easy task, but as the heroes in the second season of hacker:HUNTER shows, we can protect everyone by taking a stand against cybercrime.
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How WannaCry hit the world and how it suddenly stopped
One day in May 2017, computers all around the world suddenly shut down. A malware called WannaCry asks for ransom. The epidemic suddenly stops, because a young, British researcher found a killswitch, by accident.
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