Jason Parms

The World Health Organization has already declared the Coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic. And it is not only taking a toll on human lives and affecting the economy, but internet security is highly at risk.

Hackers are looking for new gateways to be exploited, posing cybersecurity risks for organizations and individuals.

Since a third of the worldwide population is on coronavirus lockdown, the use of online channels has drastically increased, and more online activities are conducted, including e-services, online meetings, financing, and shopping, putting online security at high risk.

If you look at the study conducted by Cynet, you will see a sharp spike in phishing attacks in Italy, the worst-hit region by the novel corona.

Below, we will look into some of the impacts on cybersecurity caused by the coronavirus and how to alleviate the risk.

Impact within healthcare cybersecurity

Hackers are taking advantage of the pandemic, and sending phishing emails, posing themselves as healthcare organizations in an attempt to steal credentials and inject malware.

In one such case, people have been receiving an email that claims to be from Australia HealthCare, sharing COVID-19 prevention tips. Since the name of the healthcare sounds believable, people are being lured to click on the link, which takes them to a counterfeit Adobe website to enter credentials.

No vaccine or medicine has been found to date that can cure the novel disease.

Keep yourself updated with the basic protective measures to fight the new coronavirus issued by authentic healthcare organizations like the WHO and follow them religiously to keep yourself and your family safe.

How to alleviate the risk?

The WHO has already put up a warning message about the hackers attempting to pose themselves as WHO and steal money and information.

If you come across a message that claims to be from a healthcare organization, then make sure to verify their authenticity before you respond.

Moreover, it’s essential to use your logic. There is no reason why anyone will request you to share your username and password while accessing public information.

Also, if you have already fallen into a trap and given out your information, immediately change your credentials on all the sites where you have used them.

Impact on social media users

The MS-ISAC reported that as of February 1, 2020, the registration of names with the phrase “coronavirus” has been on the rise. All these domains have a few common words like “help,” “relief,” “victims,” and “recover.” You should be careful with these domains. In the coming days, more such domain registrations are likely to follow.

The likelihood of spreading misinformation during a pandemic is high. Scammers often use social media to post incorrect information or links to malevolent websites. They might request your login credentials to steal information, and if you click on links or open malicious attachments, your device might be compromised.

How to alleviate the risk?

You should check the authenticity of such posts seen on social media. Be super capacious when you respond to individual pleas for financial aid posted on social media.

It is better to avoid spam mails too and never click on links found in such emails. And don’t heed the request and pass on your personal or financial information in an email or to a suspicious website.

Impact on businesses that are allowing employees to work-from-home

Many companies are issuing mandatory work-from-home policies to help restrict the risks posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a survey, nearly 85% of companies’ employees are working from their homes.

But cyber security experts caution that those remote setups encourage hackers and pose risks.

As per a recent CNBC flash survey, More than 36% of executives on the CNBC Technology Executive Council stated that cyber thieves are taking advantage of the present situation as more and more employees are working from home.

Many employees are using a VPN to access the company’s network remotely. And when you use a VPN, it exposes sensitive data to security risks even more so with the implementation of cloud services.

How to alleviate the risk?

Start patching software you have installed regularly. Companies can try to come up with a disaster recovery plan to tackle the issues of a remote workforce. The plan must include timely solutions to deal with all the associated problems.

Also, be wary of fake IT-themed websites that are on the rise. There are scammers trying to trick you into giving up information or downloading malware by pretending to be helpdesk agents.

Impact on online sellers and buyers

Since the outbreak of corona, scammers selling products promising to treat or cure the COVID-19 are on the rise.

Reportedly, more than a million products have been removed from Amazon for making false claims, and several thousands of products that were attempting to price gauge customers were removed.

Sites like Amazon that use third-party sellers were seen hiking the price of products such as hand sanitizers and face masks.

How to alleviate the risk?

Don’t fall a gullible victim to those scams. Keep yourself updated not only with the news of the virus but also with the cybercrime issues taking place and take preventive measures lest you become a victim.

Wrapping-Up

While people worldwide are trying to survive the deadly unseen coronavirus, there are still malicious actors taking advantage of the situation. Cyber threats were already a big issue even before the pandemic, but now, the matters have deteriorated. And as per Reuters, the World Health Organization is facing an increase in cyber-attacks as it is making an effort to organize a global response to the corona pandemic.

Many fake WHO sites are being set up in an attempt to steal money and sensitive information from the public as well as to gather passwords from several agency staffers.