Coronavirus: Cyber Experts Team Up To Battle Covid-19 Related Hacking

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Taking on the criminals using the Coronavirus pandemic to carry out hacking, group of 400 cyber-security experts is established

Four hundred cyber-security experts from around the world have come together in order to battle the scourge of Coronavirus-related hacking.

The group is called the Covid-19 CTI (cyber threat intelligence) League. It is made up of cyber experts from 40 countries and includes professionals in senior positions at major tech firms including Microsoft and Amazon, Reuters reported.

The need for the group comes as hackers unbelievably exploit the Coronavirus pandemic that is killing thousands around the world to carry out their criminal activities.

coronavirus Image credit: World Health Organisation
Image credit: World Health Organisation

Phishing emails

A couple of weeks ago authorities warned of an increase in Coronavirus-related hacking, that is targetting individuals as well as particular industries.

The main hacking threat comes from phishing emails, which tout things such as “click here for a cure”, “Covid-19 tax refund”, or “click on attached document to see measures to protect health”.

Other phishing emails have pretended to be from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whereas other scam emails pleaded for donations to fight the virus.

According to Reuters, one of four initial managers of the cyber expert response is Marc Rogers, a British citizen based in San Francisco.

Rogers is head of security at the long-running hacking conference Def Con and a vice president at security company Okta.

According to Reuters, Rogers said the top priority would be working to combat hacks against medical facilities and other frontline responders to the pandemic.

The group is already working on hacks of health organisations.

Also key is the defence of communication networks and services that have become essential as more people work from home, Rogers reportedly said.

Active defence

It is reported that the Covid-19 CTI League is also using its contacts in internet infrastructure providers to squash common phishing attacks, and another financial crime that is using the fear of Covid-19, or the desire for information on it, to trick regular internet users.

“I’ve never seen this volume of phishing,” Rogers reportedly said. “I am literally seeing phishing messages in every language known to man.”

Phishing messages try to induce recipients to enter passwords or other sensitive information on websites controlled by the attackers, who then use the data to take control of bank, email or other accounts.

Rogers reportedly said the group had already dismantled one campaign that used a software vulnerability to spread malicious software. He declined to provide details, and said that in general the group would be reluctant to reveal what it was fighting.

Rogers said law enforcement had been surprisingly welcoming of the collaboration, recognising the vastness of the threat.

Covid-19 CTI League is headed up by four initial managers. Rogers is a Brit, two others are American, and one is Israeli.

“I have never seen this level of cooperation,” Rogers said. “I hope it continues afterwards, because it’s a beautiful thing to see.”

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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