COVID-19 causes rise in cybercrime reports

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Posted on: April 20, 2020 8:12 pm EDT

Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the global pandemic to try to steal data and crypto

It has been reported that, amid the global coronavirus pandemic, there has been a significant increase in the number of cybercrime reports. Either criminals from the real world are exploring new methods or committing crimes, or the same people are taking advantage of people spending more hours online. According to the FBI’s Tonya Ugoretz, speaking at an online panel held by think tank Aspen Institute, the number of cybercrime reports has tripled since the pandemic started.

“Whereas they might typically receive 1,000 complaints a day through their internet portal, they’re now receiving something like 3,000 to 4,000 complaints a day,” stated Ugoretz, adding: “Not all of those are COVID-related, but a good number of those are.” The FBI deputy assistant director noted that “there was a brief shining moment when we hoped […] ‘gosh cybercriminals are beings too,’ and maybe they would think that targeting or taking advantage of this pandemic for personal profit might be beyond the pale.” She added, “Sadly, that has not been the case.”

There was another brief moment of hope for the darknet when a market named Monopoly banning users from using COVID-19 references as a marketing tool. Also, a few ransomware operators announced that they won’t be targeting healthcare organizations for the time being. Even dark web researchers are giving some expressions of solidarity with victims of the pandemic. But that support did not include all the wrongdoers; other ransomware has attacked hospitals and other darknet markets are offering false cures for coronavirus.

They have taken advantage of every single opportunity to fleece victims. “They really run the gamut. Everything from setting up fraudulent internet domains,” stated Ugoretz. “We’ve seen people set up fraudulent COVID charities, promise delivery of masks and other equipment, and then deliver fraudulent loans, extortion, etc. So pretty much, sadly, anything you can think of — cybercriminals are quite creative.”