Hackers are enjoying COVID-19 immensely as attacks skyrocket

Image credit | Andranik Hakobyan

Hackers are having a great time in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is repulsive that people should use COVID-19 as a platform to launch cyberattacks but that is what is happening. Perhaps we should not be surprised. After all, people have used wars and conflict to make their fortunes since time began.

Several stories of hackers aiming at ‘new’ targets have emerged in recent weeks. Fake sites have sprung up offering everything from hand sanitiser, COVID-19 testing kits and personal protection equipment. All of it is fake.

One story even advised caution when using smart devices in the home. Since the fear of spreading infection by touch, even at home, the use of smart devices has increased hugely, so that people do have to touch controls such as light switches. Hackers are trying to control these devices to cause havoc in the home, too.

There is also a new botnet that uses other smart devices such as video recorders, thermal cameras and routers as the attack vector. The botnet that launches massive DDoS attacks can mimic genuine web traffic and as such is deemed more potent and dangerous than usual varieties.

Another favourite of some hackers is a new form of ‘wiper’ malware that is launched from free download sites and, once infected, Windows computers are unable to reboot.

Hackers are taking advantage of the current situation (and as we have noted before, some hackers definitely have a warped sense of humour) and Zoom is one particularly vulnerable target, causing Singapore to stop its use in schools.

Zoom, the case study of the moment, is a very good example of a company under enormous pressure to scale and remain secure at the same time.

The other issue, of course, is that the number of people working from home has increased enormously too. This increases the pressure on IT support teams who have to manage remote workers, which means that training, control and education become ever more critical at a time when their resources are stretched so thin.

At a time of great crisis for the world and the world’s economy, it is sad that the battle has to be fought on more than one front.

The sad fact is, however, that hackers are exploiting the situation and will continue to do so. We, in turn, will have to extra vigilant and make sure that all our devices are as secure as they can be.

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