An official at the FBI said that since the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic the agency has seen an increase in cybercrime files.
FBI Deputy Assistant Director Tonya Ugoretz, speaking in an online panel hosted by the Aspen Institute, said that the number of reports quadrupled compared to months before the pandemic.
“The FBI has an Internet Crime Complaint Center, the IC3, which is our main ingest point. Sadly the IC3 has been incredibly busy over the past few months,” Ugoretz said.
“Whereas they might typically receive 1,000 complaints a day through their internet portal, they’re now receiving something like 3,000 – 4,000 complaints a day not all of those are COVID-related, but a good number of those are.”
“There was this brief shining moment when we hoped that, you know, ‘gosh cyber criminals are human beings too,’ and maybe they would think that targeting or taking advantage of this pandemic for personal profit might be beyond the pale. Sadly that has not been the case,” Ugoretz said.
“They really run the gamut. Everything from setting up fraudulent internet domains […], we’ve seen people set up fraudulent COVID charities, promise delivery of masks and other equipment, and then deliver fraudulent loans, extortion, etc.. So pretty much, sadly, anything you can think of. Cyber-criminals are quite creative,” the FBI official said
FOREIGN HACKERS HAVE TARGETED US-BASED COVID-19 RESEARCH
Yet aside from daily cybercrime studies, Ugoretz said the office is also aware of foreign-country attacks on the national healthcare system and the research capabilities of the US COVID-19.
“On the nation-state side, as you can imagine, countries have a very high desire for information […][on] how other countries are responding but also about things like research on vaccines, what’s happening in the US healthcare sector, and our research institutes,” Ugoretz said.
“We have certainly seen reconnaissance activity and some intrusions into some of those institutions […] especially those that have publicly identified themselves as working on COVID-related research,” the FBI Deputy Assistant Director said.
On April 4, an alert was released on Twitter by the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center on the very same subject.
Threat actors may exploit #COVID19 to steal the intellectual property of medical research organizations or sensitive data related to America’s response to the pandemic. For more information on how to protect your organization, see: https://t.co/euY19rN7M3 pic.twitter.com/PvRYCO5C61
— NCSC (@NCSCgov) April 4, 2020
Following Ugoretz ‘s announcement this week, the organization reissued its urging, urging healthcare companies in particular to bolster supply chains.
“With supply chains in turmoil during COVID-19, many organizations are turning to alternate vendors and suppliers. Some vendors may be insecure or compromised by threat actors seeking to access your data. Adversaries increasingly use third-party suppliers as attack vectors,” the NCSC said on Friday.