Criminal opportunities. Disinformation and delusion.
N2K logoApr 6, 2020

News for the cybersecurity community during the COVID-19 emergency: Monday, April 6th, 2020. Daily updates on how the pandemic is affecting the cybersecurity sector.

Criminal opportunities. Disinformation and delusion.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to provide an occasion for criminal hacking, state-directed disinformation, and popular delusions.

Criminal opportunity during the state of emergency.

There's been a general spike in coronavirus-themed attacks as criminals move toward the soft (or at least novel) targets public fear and widespread remote work afford. Both Europol and the US FBI are reporting a significant increase in cybercrime, and other regions are seeing much the same. Cointelegraph reports that the dark web souk Monopoly Market says it will "permanently ban" hoods running COVID-19 scams, but such statements should be received with reservations. Other promises of good behavior by criminals have proven to be largely moonshine, or as SecurityWeek puts it, they've "gained little traction."

On disinformation during a public health emergency.

Beijing continues to be the prime suspect in various disinformation campaigns that surround the pandemic, as the Express reports, but Russian organs have also been active. Canada's Foreign Minister is the latest to complain, not in so many words, but by clear implication, of Moscow's involvement in pushing bogus information. Digital Journal says that Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said, after a NATO meeting, "Certainly this is not the time for a state actor or non-state actor to spread disinformation, at a time when basically humanity is facing one common challenge which is the virus." Researchers at the University of Calgary weren't reluctant to make an attribution, and they're attributing to Russia the campaign NATO discussed.

On popular delusions.

The completely unfounded attribution of COVID-19 to 5G infrastructure continues to gain surprising traction, with the UK for some reason seeming particularly susceptible. The Guardian reports that broadband engineers have received threats, and the vandalism of a Birmingham cell tower seems linked to the meme. The British Government has, Computing says, asked social media platforms to take stronger measures against such misinformation about coronavirus conspiracies.

Some popular delusions may be undergoing amplification by botnets, TechRadar reports, and that suggests some state operators may be using the memes for disruptive purposes.

Zooming through China.

Zoom has acknowledged that it allowed certain calls to be routed through China, and that this was a mistake, according to Yahoo. Zoom's China connections have drawn fresh suspicion and scrutiny, including a US Congressional request for an explanation.

Update: more events move online.

SINET, the Security Innovation Network, hopes to resume its well-known and influential series of conferences with the July 20th Innovation Summit in New York, should the pandemic state of emergency have subsided by then. But SINET has also announced plans for six "virtual Town Hall meetings on what is happening to real people with real pain in their respective industries." The Town Halls will address current challenges and opportunities from the perspectives of CEOs, CISOs, venture capitalists, investment banks, and boards of directors.

The Diana Initiative, which seeks to encourage and support women pursuing careers in information security has also gone virtual. Full details about how this event will be conducted during the pandemic emergency may be found on the organization's site.

And Amazon Web Services has decided to take its 2020 NAB Show online as well.