Further to my warning that this was the perfect occasion for Hackers to benefit, now the Foreign Secretary has confirmed it too:
Foreign Secretary's Cyber Criminals statement on coronavirus (COVID-19): 5 May 2020
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab gave the 5 May 2020 daily press briefing on the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“…., I want to provide an update on one further feature that coronavirus as a challenge has thrown up for this country, and indeed, for the whole world.
Whilst the vast majority of people, and countries have come together and rallied to this international mission to defeat coronavirus, there will always be some who seek to exploit a crisis for their own criminal and hostile ends.
We know that cyber criminals, and other malicious groups are targeting individuals, businesses, and other organisations by deploying COVID-19 related scams and phishing emails. That includes groups that in the cyber security world are known as ‘advanced persistent threat’ groups – sophisticated networks of hackers who try to breach computer systems. We have clear evidence now that these criminal gangs are actively targeting national and international organisations, which are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, which I have to say makes them particularly venal and dangerous at this time.
We are working with the targets of those attacks, with the potential targets, and with others, to make sure that they are aware of the cyber threat, and that they can take the steps necessary to protect themselves or, at the very least, mitigate the harm that could be brought against them.
With that in mind, today, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre and the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency have published a joint warning about these groups.
And we’ve offered some advice on the cyber criminals and other actors who are seeking to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic through malicious cyber activity. Our teams have identified campaigns targeting healthcare bodies, pharmaceutical companies, research organisations, and also various different arms of local government.
There are various objectives and motivations that lie behind these attacks, from fraud on the one hand to espionage. But they tend to be designed to steal bulk personal data, intellectual property and wider information that supports those aims, and they are often linked with other state actors.
We expect this kind of predatory criminal behaviour to continue and evolve over the coming weeks and months ahead, and we are taking a range of measures to tackle the threat. So, as we have done today, we will share advice on the nature of those threats to enable business, citizens and our international partners to better defend themselves against the full range of cyber-attack – from hostile states to criminal gangs.
Preventive action is often the very best way to deny attackers the opportunities they are looking for. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) offers a range of practical advice to safeguard against cyber-attacks. From things like the use of online passwords, to guidance on trusted sources of online information relating to COVID-19 like the GOV.UK sites or Public Health England.
As well as providing practical advice, the UK will continue to counter those who conduct cyber-attacks. And we’re working very closely with our international partners both to respond to the threats, but also to deter the gangs and the arms of state who lie behind them.
We’re absolutely determined to defeat coronavirus, and also to defeat those trying to exploit the situation for their own nefarious ends.”
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