Covid-19: A worldwide pandemic boosting the cyber security attacks | Adamas University

Covid-19, Engineering & Technology

Covid-19: A worldwide pandemic boosting the cyber security attacks

Introduction:

COVID-19 has a direct effect on human health. But how much passive effect it has over the entire world?

The effect of COVID-19 led the entire world in a state of lockdown. For the safety of the employees, all the sectors have moved to work from home facility. Even the sectors, where the facility of work from home may not have been considered from the past few decades, have now started implementing it as a necessity and leaning more towards the digital world. Every aspect of life has its pros and cons. Now the question is all about the future passive effect of  COVID-19 in the digital world. The main motive behind this survey is about the industries adopting digital transformation as their Business Continuation Plan(BCP) or IT giants, pioneer in this digital era, both are facing a huge challenge concerning data security. The IT industries ensured adequate and updated digital security protocols in their infrastructure. But amid the ongoing nationwide lockdown, the organizations are engaging their associates in work from home facility, where associates are utilizing their personal infrastructure.  Most of the time these facilities do not have adequate data security protocols and the organization is also not in a position to provide door to door support with an extensive data security infrastructure. This clears the way for malicious users to hack easily associates’ personal infrastructure and steal confidential data.  In these circumstances, we shall conduct a survey and collect the stats, that our victory over COVID-19 is a real victory or pushing us into the next level of challenges for our future.

Some recorded Cyberattack(hacking) incidents using COVID-19 theme:

In a recent report by The Economic Times dated 27th March 2020, the volume of cyberattacks has doubled in the past few days penetrating different corporate networks  as suggested by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ cybersecurity team. India observed malware named AZORult, which was there for almost the last three years but recently it has been merged with files and apps belonging to the COVID-19 theme.

In a report by the India Today dated 24th March 2020, the World Health Organization(WHO), frontline defense, for the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, has recently faced a cyberattack. A group of Elite hackers tried to break into the WHO’s internal email facility. But due to the active presence of the cybersecurity professionals in the organization, the attack has been nullified.

As claimed by WebARX, a web security company, over past few weeks, the attempts of website exploitations have increased in a considerable amount. The company has also claimed, in March 16th , 2020 to April 08th,2020 they got around 56 reports concerning cyberattacks.

Till March 30th,2020, Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) division of FBI has encountered more than 1,200 complaints related to COVID-19 scams. In the past few weeks, hackers have engaged in phishing activities mimicking the actual websites used to raised funds for COVID-19 launched DDoS attacks against government agencies providing aid for COVID-19 deployed ransomware at medical facilities and created fake COVID-19 websites that silently download malware to victim devices.

As per the alert of CISA, USA, and NCSC, UK released on April 08th, 2020, cybercriminal and advanced persistent threat (APT) groups  are launching Phishing web applications, Malware distribution using the subject of coronavirus or COVID-19, Registration of new domain names containing wording related to coronavirus or COVID-19 for attracting and trapping a large number of internet users, and Attacks against newly deployed remote access and teleworking infrastructure.

As per the report of the Business Insider, India published on April 9th, 2020, Microsoft has mapped cyberattacks such as phishing emails and found that 241 nations and territories have suffered at least one cybersecurity attack using the COVID-19 theme. Microsoft Threat Protection, the company’s suite of cybersecurity tools used to track and block threats also found roughly 60,000 mails with COVID-19 related malicious attachments or URLs are sent 2% of a day.

Figure 1: Describing Year wise cyberattack graph for January-March quarter

The Figure 1, portrays the cyberattack(hacker) trends for this year and past two years in the given duration of months.

Conclusion:

Many IT giants have released a virtual tracker as a part of their work from home facility to deal with these cyber-attacks(hackings) amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This will track the background network activities of their associates ensuring the protection of confidential organizational data from malicious users. They are even launching VPNs(Virtual Private Network), separating the associates with similar interests from the overall network traffic and restricting unauthorized access. These digital transformations happened very quickly without getting proper time for acclimatization. The non-IT firms are using many existing opensource software without knowing their security vulnerabilities. This software exposes the organizations to the malicious cyberattacks, during their confidential meeting or data sharing. We can draw a conclusion from the above study that, the whole world is not only fighting against the COVID-19 but also struggling with many passive problems influenced by this worldwide pandemic. These opportunist cyber criminals sneaking their way and achieving their goals by taking advantage of the COVID-19 outbreak, where people, Government and media are mainly focused for the health related issues.  So, we need to be more conscious and alert while fighting with COVID-19 not only to defeat the disease but to protect ourselves from these passive threats into the digital world. 

Co-Contributor: Ms. Sanjana Dutta, IT Analyst, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Kolkata, West Bengal, India.

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