Cyberattack reports quadrupled during Coronavirus outbreak, FBI warns

Pierluigi Paganini April 19, 2020

The FBI announced that the number of cybercrime reports is spiked since the beginning of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Speaking at the Aspen Institute, FBI Deputy Assistant Director Tonya Ugoretz, announced that the bureau has observed a spike in cybercrime reports since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The FBI official explained that the number of reports has quadrupled compared to months before the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The FBI has an Internet Crime Complaint Center, the IC3, which is our main ingest point. Sadly the IC3 has been incredibly busy over the past few months,” Ugoretz said.

“Whereas they might typically receive 1,000 complaints a day through their internet portal, they’re now receiving something like 3,000 – 4,000 complaints a day not all of those are COVID-related, but a good number of those are.

“There was this brief shining moment when we hoped that, you know, ‘gosh cyber criminals are human beings too,’ and maybe they would think that targeting or taking advantage of this pandemic for personal profit might be beyond the pale. Sadly that has not been the case,” Ugoretz said.

“They really run the gamut. Everything from setting up fraudulent internet domains […], we’ve seen people set up fraudulent COVID charities, promise delivery of masks and other equipment, and then deliver fraudulent loans, extortion, etc.. So pretty much, sadly, anything you can think of. Cyber-criminals are quite creative,” she added.

Ugoretz pointed out that also nation-state actors are launching Coronavirus-themed attacks targeting the national healthcare sector and the research industry.

Nations state-actors are focused on gathering information about the response of states to the ongoing pandemic and the progress of the research on vaccines.

“We have certainly seen reconnaissance activity and some intrusions into some of those institutions […] especially those that have publicly identified themselves as working on COVID-related research,” the FBI Deputy Assistant Director said.

During the webinar, the participants introduced the Cyber Threat Intelligence League, a collective of over 1400 cybersecurity professionals and government experts from 40 countries, born out of the pandemic and aimed at fighting Coronavirus-themed attacks.

Below the slides shared by the experts:

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – COVID19, hacking)

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