Cyber threats linked to COVID

Has the Coronavirus had negative effects on the state of global cybersecurity?

Unfortunately, yes.

In the past few hours, there has been a series of cyber-attacks against the Italian pharmaceutical company IRBM, which produces the vaccine researched at the University of Oxford. In total, there were at least seven attacks, defined as “very violent” by the CEO Pietro di Lorenzo.

The timing suggests a ‘political’ motive to undermine the position of a vaccine that is cheap and easy to transport: the attacks took place hours after the statement that made public the vaccine’s selling price.

A worrying trend

But it was not an isolated case.

In recent days, we have received news from South Korean intelligence of North Korea’s attempted intrusion to breach the computer systems of companies engaged in vaccine development.

The US giant Microsoft has reported similar intrusion attempts by hackers employed by Russia aimed at breaching the networks of seven pharmaceutical companies and organizations engaged in vaccine research in the United States, Canada, France and India.

A cyber intelligence company revealed that coronavirus-related cyber threats increased by 600% from February to March.

It is probably only a matter of time before we hear of a potentially catastrophic new cyberattack.

Covid & teleworking: what are the risks?

How did the coronavirus make us more cyber vulnerable at our work?

Cyber ​​security in times of COVID is not limited to large institutions: private individuals are also at risk.

The huge number of people working from home has greatly increased the “attack surface” available to hackers. In fact, the more devices connected to a network, the larger its attack surface becomes, making infiltration much easier.

Before the pandemic, employees who worked remotely were usually provided with special laptops with enhanced security. But now hundreds of millions of people use personal laptops, over unsecured home Internet connections, to access work files. This is a dream come true for hackers, because now all they need is to infiltrate through a single access point to take control of an entire network.

Here is a link to learn more about our blog on the cyber risks of smart-working.

Conclusions

Having said that, what changes are we seeing?

We are entering the cyber-age: our health and our life will orbit more and more around the technologies of digitization.

In the health sector, cybersecurity will be fundamental: the collection and distribution of vaccines could become automatic. These investments and intellectual property will need to be properly protected and safeguarded

In short, the cyber threats linked to COVID spare no one: individuals, strategic companies, and institutions.

Protecting stakeholders in all sectors and individuals from cyber threats is an imperative we must aim for.

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