The World Health Organization (WHO), one of the major agencies working on handling the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, has recently seen what they call a dramatic increase in cyberattacks. WHO mentioned they saw an increase of about five times the usual number of cyberattacks aimed at their staff, as well as scams are targeting the general public.
The organization shared that about 450 active WHO email addresses and passwords were leaked online recently, with many of those belonging to people working on COVID-19 response. WHO insisted the leaked credentials weren't a risk to their systems since the data wasn't recent. But they said the attack involved an older extranet system used by partners, retired and current staff.
The organization migrates to a more secure authentication system
Social engineering used by hackers and con artists has been used to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. The criminals are using the chance to benefit the fears and confusion caused by the remote work environment, leaving employees vulnerable in its wake. Scammers are attempting to steal credit card information or passwords they may use in later operations. State-backed hackers are also using the chance to spy on foreign companies or governments as the situation develops.
The WHO said they are now working alongside the private sector to create better and more reliable internal systems. They are aiming at educating the staff on proper cybersecurity and the risks behind the situation during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The organization also mentioned that they saw an increase in scammers attempting to impersonate its employees in phishing emails. They are using the emails to scam people into giving them money, instead of the legitimate COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
"Ensuring the security of health information for the Member States and the privacy of users interacting with us a priority for WHO at all times, but also particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful for the alerts we receive from Member States and the private sector. We are all in this fight together," said the WHO's Chief Information Officer, Bernardo Mariano.