COVID-19 Malicious Cyber Activity

24 Apr 2020

The Australian Cyber Security Centre, our partner security vendors, and our own helpdesk have all seen an increase in malicious COVID-19 themed cyber threats to businesses and individuals. This has come from a marked uptake of distributed workforces (working from home), and an overall pivot from online criminals taking advantage of the global COVID-19 pandemic and its highly topical nature.

Since March, ACCC’s Scamwatch site has seen over 1,100 reports of scams with $130,000 reported losses. It should be noted these numbers could be much higher, as these are only the cases reported to ACSC & ACCC.

The majority of the malicious activity is of phishing nature: text messages and emails (attackers masquerading as a government agencies, Microsoft, Banks or similar).  There has also been an increase in attempts to gain remote access to computers via phone calls, and 'IT assistance' scam emails.

Currently there are approximately two reported cases per day where Australians are losing money or personal information to COVID-19 themed scams, and over 150 malicious COVID-19 themed websites have been identified and shut down by ASCS.

Some examples of these phishing SMS & email attacks are below (Credit - Australian Cyber Security Centre):

covid-19 phishing example 1.png  covid-19 phishing example 2.png

 covid-19 phishing example 4.png  covid-19 phishing example 3.png

We have developed some guides to help protect yourself from phishing emails, and have also developed a definitive guide to Cyber Security for other tips to protect your business. This guide is free and includes detailed steps to help protect yourself and your business.

Guide: Avoid phishing emails   Cyber Security: A definitive guide for SMEs

Extract from the ACSC:

Cybercrime actors are pivoting their online criminal methods to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. On average each month, the ACSC receives about 4,400 cybercrime reports through ReportCyber, and responds to 168 cyber security incidents. Since 10 March 2020, the ACSC has:

  • received more than 95 cybercrime reports (approximately two per day) about Australians losing money or personal information to COVID-19 themed scams and online frauds,
  • responded to 20 cyber security incidents affecting COVID-19 response services and/or major national suppliers in the current climate, and
  • disrupted over 150 malicious COVID-19 themed websites, with assistance from Australia’s major telecommunications providers, Google and Microsoft.

Read their full report here: https://www.cyber.gov.au/threats/threat-update-covid-19-malicious-cyber-activity-20-apr-2020

If you would like assistance with Cyber Security for your business, please feel free to reach out to our team:

Lets Talk Cyber Security

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