COVID-19 was bound to spawn hundreds of ‘impact’ stories. From digital disruption, to economic meltdown, to the impact of a work force working from home, they keep coming.
Hackers and purveyors of fake news are on the same track.
A story broke a few days ago that said that 5G can spread COVID-19. While such a story might make us smile, imagine if you are elderly, have no computer, no mobile and no idea what 5G is and is capable of (except perhaps that it is all around you).
Another fake story forced the French Government to declare on Twitter that ‘no, cocaine does not cure COVID-19’. Pity, some might say.
Hackers are also using COVID-19 as an attack vector. They are, for instance, targeting Italy – now in almost total lockdown – as fertile ground for trickbot attacks, using emails to launch the assaults.
According to security company SophosLabs, ‘the email takes advantage of COVID-19 fears by offering up a clickable document that allegedly includes a list of precautions to take to prevent infection. Unfortunately, the document is weaponized’.
The attack method is not new, it is simply typical of hackers that they will constantly adapt their approach to the current environment.
Hackers are constantly developing their techniques – as all professionals, they keep up with current methods – and are now, amongst other things, using chatbots to help their cause.
In this recently uncovered technique, targeted at Russians, hackers convince their targets they are due refunds for unused phone and internet services.
Then they use chatbots to ‘help’ their targets through the screens that syphon their data over to the attackers.
Good customer service you might say.
Good customer service is not new in the world of hackers. Credit cards, fake IDs, fake Facebook accounts are so cheap on the dark web that some hackers make sure there is support – 24/7 – to make your journey into the dark world of, say, a massive DDoS attack as easy as possible.
What we must realise is that hackers are basically amoral. While the rest of humanity is concerned about how far and how fast COVID-19 will spread and will we, our economies and our events recover by the middle of the year, hackers are thinking deeply about how to best exploit the opportunity.
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