Incidences of cybercrime are increasing at an alarming rate as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a new report from INTERPOL predicts they will accelerate further.
The report explains how cybercriminals have been exploiting our growing and necessary reliance on digital technology during recent months. This includes a sudden shift to teleworking by many organisations, which has involved the deployment of often unsecured remote systems and networks.
Based on the information provided by its member countries, INTERPOL has concluded that during the pandemic there has been a particularly significant increase in malicious domains (22%), malware and ransomware (36%) and phishing scams (59%).
Threat actors have revised their usual online scams and phishing schemes to commit crimes that feed on people’s financial and health fears during the COVID-19 crisis.
The report has also revealed a significant target shift from individuals and small businesses to major corporations, governments and critical infrastructure which offer more substantial financial gains.
INTERPOL believes that cybercriminals are developing and boosting their attacks at an alarming pace, exploiting the fear and uncertainty caused by the unstable social and economic situation created by COVID-19. The increased online dependency for people around the world is also creating new opportunities, with many businesses and individuals not ensuring their cyber defences are up to date.
The report concludes that a further increase in cybercrime is highly likely in the near future. This is primarily due to vulnerabilities related to working from home, a continued focus on coronavirus-themed online scams and, when a COVID-19 vaccination becomes available, it is highly probable that there will be another spike in phishing related to these medical products.
According to the INTERPOL report, therefore, the COVID-19 pandemic is providing a wealth of opportunities for cybercriminals. In fact, many organisations could be at a greater risk of cyber attacks after turning to remote access solutions such as VPNs.
These remote access points may not be correctly configured or sufficiently secure because the remote computers may not have the latest technology installed. Furthermore, personnel may have had to use their own personal devices to work from home, which presents challenges from a security standpoint.