Europol: Pandemic boosts child porn, cybercrime


Fears about the virus, combined with unprecedented Internet usage, have encouraged criminals to shift towards new forms of illegal services, Europol said in its annual cybercrime report. — Pixabay

THE HAGUE: The coronavirus pandemic has been a boon for cybercriminals across Europe, especially for child pornographers and online scammers, the European police agency Europol said on Oct 5.

Fears about the virus, combined with unprecedented Internet usage, have encouraged criminals to shift towards new forms of illegal services, Europol said in its annual cybercrime report.

“Criminals quickly exploited the pandemic to attack vulnerable people... to sell items they claim will prevent or cure Covid-19,” the agency said in a statement.

There had also been increased ransomware attacks, particularly targeting the health sector, and more sophisticated methods including reconnaissance on their targets and threats to auctions off stolen data.

Lockdowns in the early stages of the pandemic encouraged a spike in child sexual abuse, often through dark web forums where individuals gain entry by “recording and posting their abuse of children, encouraging others to do the same", the report said.

The pandemic “has slowed many aspects of our normal lives. But it has unfortunately accelerated online criminal activity," said EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

“Organised crime exploits the vulnerable, be it the newly unemployed, exposed businesses, or, worst of all, children.” – AFP

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