COVID and Cybercrime

Cybercrime reports increased 300% during the pandemic, according to the FBI Cyber Division. Pre-COVID-19, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received about 1,000 complaints per day. After COVID hit, IC3 receives 3,000 to 4,000 daily, according to FBI Cyber Division Deputy Assistant Director Tonya Ugoretz.

Ugoretz described a ‘collision’ between an increase in cyber criminals and an increase in the number of opportunities to exploit users. These are the 8 ways cybercriminals are looking to take advantage of the unwary during the pandemic:

  1. Impersonating major organizations for phishing campaigns
  2. Fake COVID test results for smishing (text message phishing) or vishing campaigns (voice/phone phishing)
  3. Free PPE scams
  4. Antibody test scam
  5. COVID stimulus payment scams
  6. Fake contact tracers
  7. Targeting children who are learning from home
  8. COVID vaccine to scams

Cybercriminals are ‘quite creative,’ Ugoretz warned. Cybercriminals’ efforts include creating legitimate-looking Internet domains, fake COVID charities, fraudulent loans, and extortion. Children educating from home are targeted with educational materials that are actually malware. – BK

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