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Hackers are Using the Coronavirus to Infiltrate Your Computer

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) only became an official pandemic on 11 March 2020. This is when the World Health Organization (WHO) decided that the alarming levels of inaction by many governments were aiding the global spread of the virus. While everyone is trying to come to terms with the latest recommendations, sanctions, and preventative measures, hackers have started exploiting the panic to infiltrate your computer.

For businesses and individuals, cyberattacks already posed a significant risk to their information security. In this time of crisis, it’s easy for hackers to exploit the public’s fears and take advantage of the situation to spread their malicious code around the world.

Hacking and Infiltrating Your Computer by Exploiting the Coronavirus Pandemic

As concerns about the pandemic continue to increase, hackers quickly devised new strategies that use the panic to spread their infections. Researchers from various network security firms found drastic increases in the amount of malware and websites deployed specifically to capitalize on the current appetite for coronavirus-related information. This isn’t new, as hackers often use current events to deploy sophisticated exploits. However, with the elevated levels of concern, more people are likely to fall for their attempts.

What Hackers are Doing to Infiltrate Your Computer Systems

By exploiting the human psyche, hackers first successfully infiltrated computer systems in Japan. As the levels of concern increase around the globe, researchers expect an escalation in attempts targeting U.S. firms over the coming months. The source of the increase seems to originate from groups trying to use their hacks for financial gain and state-sanctioned actors looking to steal critical business information.

In either case, it will be vital for companies to increase their cybersecurity protections and ensure they do everything they can to prevent an attack from succeeding. According to MarketWatch, coronavirus-themed domains are 50% more likely to originate from malicious hackers. For companies and individuals to keep their systems secure, they’ll need to know how to identify a cyberattack attempt before it’s too late.

Hackers are using two predominant attack types:

  • Phishing emails and communications: Hackers are attacking both computers and mobile devices using phishing emails or text messages. The messages closely mimic official correspondence but entice users to open an attachment or click on an infected link about the COVID-19 outbreak. Once a user opens the file or clicks on a link, it downloads and installs the malware on their device.
  • Fake COVID-19 domains and maps: In this instance, hackers will duplicate official maps and websites but use their domain that installs and infects a computer with malware. As the maps update information in real-time, it gives hackers the necessary permissions to interact with the computer and deploy their virus onto the machine.

Hackers have used similar strategies in the past and gained enough experience to model both phishing and domain attack types for maximum effect. By imitating official communications and websites, they can fool even the most experienced individual if they aren’t careful.

How to Protect Networks During the Current Coronavirus Pandemic

In this time of crisis, every company needs to ensure they elevate their protective protocols in the office. While the same cybersecurity rules still apply, companies must take the necessary precautions to prevent a coronavirus-related attack from succeeding. As ransomware still poses an existential threat to organizations, companies must understand the risks and increase their cybersecurity vigilance over this period.

Educate Staff about the New Risks

It’s normal for staff to worry about the current pandemic. This could lead to careless behavior in the office. Educating employees about the risk will help reduce the likelihood that they’ll open an attachment in an email containing malware. This also applies to clicking on a link in an email even if it looks like the email came from an official source. Teach employees to verify the URL in links, and if they suspect any nefarious source, tell them to forward the email to the company’s IT department.

Provide Company Updates Instead

Another way to reduce the likelihood of an attack succeeding is to provide updates from the company itself. Using valid, official sources, the company can instruct staff to use only previously vetted sources for all their COVID-19 updates and information.

Keep all Threat Definitions Up to Date with Managed Network Services from Edwards Business Systems

The easiest way to keep a company’s information systems secure is by adopting a Managed Network Services model. Over the coming months, security professionals will be busy constantly updating their virus and threat definitions to ensure their firewalls protect the company’s networks. Using a Managed Network Services provider, businesses can ensure they receive the necessary updates while also improving their IT operations. Edwards Business Systems can help companies weather the current storm and build a more sustainable business for the threats of the future.

For improved network security during this hacking pandemic and for advice on how to prevent criminals from infiltrating your computer systems, get in touch with Edward Business Systems as soon as possible.

April 15th, 2020