Cybercriminals sensing opportunities in lockdowns, warns Europol


Hackers are taking advantage of the fact that more people are working from home and directing attacks at corporate networks in a bid to force them to pay ransoms. Additionally, scam artists are taking advantage of fears of coronavirus infection. — Dreamstime/TNS

Cybercrime has surged in Europe as criminals exploit opportunities presented by the coronavirus pandemic, said Europol in a report on Internet crime trends released on Nov 11.

Hackers are taking advantage of the fact that more people are working from home and directing attacks at corporate networks in a bid to force them to pay ransoms. Additionally, scam artists are taking advantage of fears of coronavirus infection.

There has also been a surge in online grooming of children for sexual gratification because more children are spending more time online thanks to lockdowns.

“Methods and tools used by cybercriminals are increasingly adopted in other crime areas and the digital criminal ecosystem continues to evolve at an alarming pace,” stated the report.

Malware attacks remain one of the biggest threats, according to Europol. They also noted that, while criminals are dialling back on massive attacks against multiple computers, targeted attacks on specific companies and institutions are on the rise.

There are also fears of an increase in fraud, as more people shop online to avoid crowds during health scares.

The agency has also seen an increase in mobile malware – harmful software written especially for use on mobile devices – for use in attacks on banks and companies.

Child safety is a particular concern, especially with so many juveniles online without supervision because of lengthy stays in homes with parents trying to work. Criminals are taking advantage of this, warned Europol.

Some are using fake identities to strike up friendships with children on gaming systems and social networks and then tricking them into striking sexual poses or behaving provocatively for a webcam. The images are then shared online. – dpa

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