Covid Pushes Cybercrime Through the Roof

Cybercriminals are using content, messaging and news related to coronavirus and Covid to lure you into falling for email and social engineering schemes at home and work. And it’s getting worse…

Covid-19 is making online crime a bigger threat than ever. Criminal networks, governments and individual opportunists have leveraged the crisis to ramp up new schemes to defraud consumers, businesses and governments at all levels.

Who’s behind the spike in cybercrime?
This new wave of cybercrime is mainly coming from what law enforcement refer to as the “big four plus one” of cyber threats. The big four are the quartet of states known for their cyber capabilities: Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. The “plus one” refers to cash-rich and increasingly adept cybercriminal operations that have now earned equal footing with nation-states.

The scope of the problem is overwhelming
Through the first half of 2020 the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center had already received 320,000 complaints.  The total for all of 2019 was 400,000.

The FBI is tracking an increase in online fraud related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which gives loans to small businesses to keep employees on the payroll. The agency has launched nearly 100 investigations into fraud involving $42 million in funds. Some criminals have successfully had victims wire funds to international bank accounts shielded from U.S. law enforcement.

Coronavirus-related fraud has led the U.S. Secret Service, which plays a major role in federal cybercrime investigations, to focus on quickly disrupting schemes and protecting victims, rather than building prosecutable cases against offenders.

The bottom line
Be skeptical. Cyber-criminals are using content, messaging and news related to Coronavirus to lure you into falling for email and social engineering schemes. Fall prey at work and you compromise your company’s networks, giving them the access they need to launch ransomware attacks. Click the wrong thing at home and you could be downloading spyware.

© National Security Institute, Inc.


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