Cyberattacks aimed at profiting from the coronavirus pandemic are expected to intensify with millions self-isolating at home and relying on digital solutions to work remotely, the pan-European policing agency says.
In a new report, "Pandemic Profiteering: How Criminals Exploit the COVID-19 Crisis," Europol calls the spread of the coronavirus a cybersecurity risk in which hackers are abusing the demand for supplies and information.
"There is a long list of cyber-attacks against organizations and individuals, including phishing campaigns that distribute malware via malicious links and attachments, and execute malware and ransomware attacks that aim to profit from the global health concern," it said.
"The number of cyber-attacks is significant and expected to increase further. Cybercriminals will continue to innovate in the deployment of various malware and ransomware packages themed around the COVID-19 pandemic. They may expand their activities to include other types of online attacks."
Europol also noted that the possibility of a cyberattack dealing a major blow an entire sector or society is no longer unthinkable. Thus, in 2018 the European Union adopted an emergency response protocol to facilitate rapid assessment of cross-border cyberattacks as well as sharing of critical information and coordination of international aspects of investigations, the agency said.
In a press release, Europol’s Executive Director Catherine De Bolle was quoted as saying, "While many people are committed to fighting this crisis and helping victims, there are also criminals who have been quick to seize the opportunities to exploit the crisis."
"This is unacceptable: such criminal activities during a public health crisis are particularly threatening and can carry real risks to human lives. That is why it is relevant more than ever to reinforce the fight against crime."