UK Cyber Body Offers Practical Guidelines on Dealing with Coronavirus-Themed Cyber Threats

The National Cyber Security Centre, the UK’s independent authority on cybersecurity, has released practical advice for individuals and organizations on how to deal with coronavirus-related malicious cyber activity.

In a joint announcement with the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the British agency warns that Coronavirus-themed scams are on the rise in “a fast moving situation.”

According to the advisory, an increasing number of malicious bad actors are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic for their own objectives.

“In the UK, the NCSC has detected more UK government branded scams relating to COVID-19 than any other subject,” reads the notice. “Although, from the data seen to date, the overall levels of cyber crime have not increased, both the NCSC and CISA are seeing a growing use of COVID-19 related themes by malicious cyber actors.”

The surge in home working has also increased the use of potentially vulnerable services, including Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). According to the NCSC, this leaves organizations in a dangerous situation, as employees are advised to use VPNs to patch into their company’s infrastructure from home.

“APT groups and cyber criminals are targeting individuals, small and medium businesses and large organisations with COVID-19 related scams and phishing emails,” the NCSC continues, following through with its promise of practical advice to reduce the risk of being affected by COVID-10 themed scams.

The 11-page full report (PDF) outlines a lengthy list of indicators of compromise (IOCs), and details social engineering techniques used by cybercrooks, including phishing and SMS phishing, as well as malware deployment and exploitation of new home-working setups.

“Malicious cyber actors are continually adjusting their tactics to take advantage of newsituations, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception,” the NCSC concludes. “Malicious cyber actors are using the high appetite for COVID-19 related information as an opportunity to delivermalware and ransomware and to steal user credentials. Individuals and organizations should remain vigilant.”

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