US and UK cyber officials claim 'coronavirus hackers' are state-sponsored

The warning comes after the World Health Organisation and hospitals alike were targeted by cyber criminals

US and UK cybersecurity officials have issued a joint warning that hackers, some of them potentially state-backed, are using the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic to exploit businesses and the wider public.

In a joint advisory published today, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) said that hacking groups have been using a range of ransomware and malware to take advantage of “individuals and organisations” during the global coronavirus outbreak.

Although the advisory claims that many of these groups are state-backed, the statement did not name any country which could be responsible for the cyber attacks.

The warning comes after the World Health Organisation (WHO) and hospitals alike were targeted by cyber criminals, compromising computer systems while healthcare workers deal with a dramatic influx of patients hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Hackers have also used the coronavirus to spread phishing emails, posing as GOV.UK or the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CISA assistant director for cybersecurity, Bryan Ware, advised the public to “remain vigilant”, be wary of “suspicious emails”, as well as seek information only from trusted sources.

“As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, bad actors are using these difficult times to exploit and take advantage of the public and business," said Ware. "Our partnerships with the NCSC and industry have played a critical role in our ability to track these threats and respond.”

NCSC director of operations Paul Chichester said that the NCSC is “working round the clock with its partners to respond” to the attacks by “malicious cyber actors... adjusting their tactics to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic”.

“Our advice to the public and organisations is to remain vigilant and follow our guidance, and to only use trusted sources of information on the virus such as UK Government, Public Health England or NHS websites,” he said.

Last month, WHO partnered with major tech firms to launch a global hackathon, with developers invited to support the COVID-19 fightback and businesses struggling through the pandemic.

Featured Resources

Managing security risk and compliance in a challenging landscape

How key technology partners grow with your organisation

Download now

Evaluate your order-to-cash process

15 recommended metrics to benchmark your O2C operations

Download now

AI 360: Hold, fold, or double down?

How AI can benefit your business

Download now

Getting started with Azure Red Hat OpenShift

A developer’s guide to improving application building and deployment capabilities

Download now

Recommended

Global ransom DDoS extortionists are retargeting companies
distributed denial of service (DDOS)

Global ransom DDoS extortionists are retargeting companies

22 Jan 2021
BEC scammers are using Google Forms to identify easy victims
phishing

BEC scammers are using Google Forms to identify easy victims

21 Jan 2021
FBI warns of ongoing corporate vishing attacks
phishing

FBI warns of ongoing corporate vishing attacks

19 Jan 2021
Hackers using COVID vaccine as a lure to spread malware
hacking

Hackers using COVID vaccine as a lure to spread malware

15 Jan 2021

Most Popular

How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD
operating systems

How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD

21 Jan 2021
What is the Raspberry Pi Pico?
Hardware

What is the Raspberry Pi Pico?

21 Jan 2021
How to recover deleted emails in Gmail
email delivery

How to recover deleted emails in Gmail

6 Jan 2021