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Coronavirus Pandemic Delivers an Extraordinary Array of Cybersecurity Challenges

The COVID-19 outbreak doesn’t just threaten to overload the healthcare system and to destroy the global economy. It’s also having a strong impact on the security of businesses and individuals worldwide.  

As the entire world is under lockdown, hackers, it seems, are coming out to play. According to researchers from CheckPoint, since mid-February, there has been an increase in the number of coronavirus-related malware attacks, from a few hundred daily to nearly more than 5.000 on March 28 only. After this massive boom, there are now on average approximately 2.600 attacks daily.

Moreover, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO has also reported experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of cyberattacks. The attacks were directed mainly to its staff, as well as email scams directed to the public at large. As of April 23, WHO reported that 450 active WHO email addresses and passwords that have been leaked online together with thousands of belongings of those fighting with the virus in the first line. 

With cybersecurity challenges rising during these uncertain times, cybersecurity experts highlight various solutions in the cybersecurity market, including identity and access management, encryption, data loss protection, firewall, disaster recovery, and risk and compliance management. 

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Interpol’s advice on cybersecurity

Today, when cyber defenses might not be as strong as before as everybody is now focusing on the health crisis, hackers are attacking computer networks and systems of both businesses and individuals. Thus, the International Criminal Police Organization is giving companies and people advice on how to protect themselves from hackers. 

Interpol warns us that there are three common types of cyberattacks rising during these uncertain times, including:

  • malicious domains ( new sites created by cybercriminals, often containing words like “coronavirus”, “covid19” or” covid-19” in their domains)
  • malware ( found embedded in interactive coronavirus maps and websites, as well as found in spam emails)
  • ransomware ( targeting mainly medical centers and public institutions and sent through emails containing infected links or attachments). 

Interpol’s recommendations and prevention tips against cyberattacks include keeping information safe by backing up all essential files and storing them independently from your system, be it in the cloud or an external drive.

For example, container security has been one of the hottest trends in recent years, primarily thanks to all the security tools and policies used to protect the container and its runtime against cybersecurity threats.  

Another recommendation would be to ensure that you have the latest anti-virus software installed on your devices, as well as securing system administration vulnerabilities that hackers could use for their attack. 

Moreover, links or attachments in emails which you were not expecting on which come from an unknown sender should not be opened by all means. 

Privacy settings, including passwords or security codes, need to be checked and updated regularly. For passwords, make sure you use a mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and even a special character to make it secure. 

The more we protect ourselves and our businesses online during these uncertain times, the lower the chances for hackers to succeed with the cyberattacks.