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Interpol: Cybercrimes Increasing at 'Alarming Pace' Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

© REUTERS / Kacper Pempel/IllustrationA projection of cyber code on a hooded man is pictured in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017
A projection of cyber code on a hooded man is pictured in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017 - Sputnik International
A new International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) assessment is warning the global community that the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic has led to an increase in sophisticated cyberattacks targeting critical infrastructure, major corporations and governments.

“Cybercriminals are developing and boosting their attacks at an alarming pace, exploiting the fear and uncertainty caused by the unstable social and economic situation created by COVID-19,” Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock expressed in a Tuesday release by the international police group.

According to Interpol’s COVID-19 Cybercrime Analysis Report, which can be downloaded from the news release page and which cited “private sector partners,” some “907,000 spam messages, 737 incidents related to malware and 48,000 malicious URLs” related to COVID-19 were logged between January and April 24.

IT security company Trend Micro detailed that there was a 220-fold increase in spam messages from February to March this year and a 260% uptick in hits on malicious URLs during the same period.

“The increased online dependency for people around the world, is also creating new opportunities, with many businesses and individuals not ensuring their cyber defences are up to date,” Stock noted.

“The report’s findings again underline the need for closer public-private sector cooperation if we are to effectively tackle the threat COVID-19 also poses to our cyber health.”

Interpol’s comprehensive analysis of data obtained from member countries showed that 59% of cyber threats during the pandemic were phishing, scam or fraud-related.

“By deploying COVID-19 themed phishing emails, often impersonating government and health authorities, cybercriminals entice victims into providing their personal data and downloading malicious content,” the report explained.

Both North America and South America have observed a “sharp increase in COVID-19 themed phishing and fraud campaigns,” according to the analysis. The continents are also experiencing a ransomware campaign that primarily uses LOCKBIT malware to attack medium-sized companies.

An estimated 36% of cyber threats were malware or ransomware, and 22% of threats recorded were malicious domains. Fake news accounted for 14% of cyber threats.

It’s worth noting that the totals obtained by Interpol are not representative of all countries, as only 48 out of 194 member nations responded to the survey issued by the international police group.

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