COVID19 Pandemic Leads to Huge Spike in Cyber-Attacks Targeting WHO

An attorney for New York-based cybersecurity experts Blackstone Law Group has discovered that the World Health Organization has experienced a huge increase in the number of hacking attempts using spoof websites to try and fool staff members into sharing passwords during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Attorney Alexander Urbelis, noticed the campaign initially on March 13 when he was monitoring the activities of a cybercriminal as part of his work responsibilities. He noticed that the group had set up and registered a web page that looked very like WHO’s internal emailing platform. As a result of this he tried to contact the email addresses used to register the domain. No reply was sent to these emails.

Talking about the discovery of the campaigns Urbelis, said: “I realised quite quickly that this was a live attack on the World Health Organisation in the midst of a pandemic. It’s (the number of attacks taking place) still around 2,000 a day. I have never seen anything like this.”

There has been no outright confirmation as to what group of cybercriminals is to blame for the attacks, there has it was been suggest that this is the work of  DarkHotel – a group of hackers that have been working since 2007. Typically they base their attacks using East Asia and, as a number of the attacks in this particular campaign have included included government employees and business executives in places such as China, North Korea, Japan, and the United States, it would make sense to reason that they may be to blames. Despite this there is no proof to back it up as of yet.

Flavio Aggio , WHO Chief Information Security Officer  said: There has been a big increase in targeting of the WHO and other cybersecurity incidents. There are no hard numbers, but such compromise attempts against us and the use of (WHO) impersonations to target others have more than doubled.”

In February WHO issues a warning in relation to a group of hackers pretending to be part of its organization and similar warnings released by many other agencies and governments globally.


About Thomas Brown
Thomas Brown worked as a reporter for several years on ComplianceHome. Thomas a seasoned journalist with several years experience in the healthcare sector and has contributed to healthcare and information technology news publishers. Thomas has a particular interest in the application of healthcare information technology to better serve the interest of patients, including areas should has data protection and innovations such as telehealth.