During the global pandemic, cyber thieves are attempting to cause chaos.

12th January, 2022.      //   Crime  // 

Malicious spyware has infected first responders. Medical establishments have been targeted by ransomware. Scams involving stimulus checks defraud ordinary folks. Electronic eavesdropping is a threat to children.
As government leaders and first responders battle the Covid-19 virus, which is inflicting illness and death around the world, US federal law enforcement authorities are battling hostile cyber actors who are exploiting the epidemic to hurt people.

Federal officials have warned individuals to remain watchful against a growing list of cyber dangers in a series of public bulletins released in the last month by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, and Secret Service.
Following an unprecedented call by governments and leaders for people to stay at home, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center issued a public notice on Wednesday warning that cyber criminals were exploiting the coronavirus outbreak to exploit the use of virtual environments adopted by government agencies, businesses, students, and private citizens seeking to maintain communication.

FBI warns video calls are getting hijacked. It’s called ‘Zoombombing’

A increase in firms teleworking to connect and share information over the internet has resulted from the COVID-19 epidemic, according to a warning from the FBI. In order to steal sensitive information, eavesdrop on conference calls or virtual meetings, or conduct other harmful activities, malevolent cyber actors are looking for ways to exploit telework software vulnerabilities.”
The FBI’s notice on Wednesday follows a similar warning from the agency earlier in the week, which explicitly mentioned criminal attempts to infiltrate the popular videoconferencing software tool Zoom.

The FBI notification noted, “The FBI has received many instances of conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate pictures and threatening language.” According to the Bureau, the public should take a number of precautions to assist protect their privacy, including setting Zoom virtual meetings to “private,” mandating passwords for online meetings, and restricting anyone other than the meeting host’s ability to share screens.

Zoom “appreciates all efforts to raise awareness about how to effectively prevent these kind of assaults,” a spokesman for the firm told the press in an email on Thursday.
The FBI is also releasing recommendations for parents on how to protect their children from harmful cyber actors as more schools transition to online classroom learning in reaction to the closing of educational institutions across the country.

The agency has specifically asked parents to keep a tight eye on their children’s use of educational technologies and online services. FBI experts recommend that parents “conduct regular internet searches of their children’s information to monitor the exposure and spread of their information on the internet” and that they consider monitoring their child’s credit or identity “to check for any fraudulent use of their child’s identity.”
The establishment of bogus coronavirus-related websites is another method employed by clever criminal actors to prey on naive people. An investigation of recently-created websites related with Covid-19 discovered that around one hundred of the sites analyzed were “actively hostile,” while over 2,000 were deemed “suspicious,” according to a letter sent to government colleagues last week.

A variation on this tactic can be found in recent efforts by cyber criminals to trick consumers into claiming their coronavirus “stimulus checks” from major stores. In one scam spotlighted this week by the FBI, criminals sent unsolicited text messages to recipients, instructing them to click on a link in order to claim a $100 “stimulus bounty” from the retailer Costco. In reality, the link redirected the user to a malicious website that then compromised the user’s phone.

In addition to exploiting online technical features, the government has also warned that cyber criminals are taking advantage of feelings of generosity towards those impacted by the pandemic to bilk innocent victims out of money.
In a public message last month from the Secret Service, federal agents outlined how nefarious actors are actively “using social engineering tactics through legitimate social media websites seeking donations for charitable causes related to the virus. Criminals are exploiting the charitable spirit of individuals, seeking donations to fraudulent causes surrounding the coronavirus.” Members of the public were urged to be cautious in donating to causes or organizations that might be unfamiliar to them.
The Secret Service message also included a stark assessment of why cyber criminals are especially successful during periods of national crisis, noting that “any major news event can become an opportunity for groups or individuals with malicious intentions. The coronavirus is no different. In fact, the coronavirus is a prime opportunity for enterprising criminals because it plays on one of the basic human conditions…fear.”

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