Combatting Cybercrime During COVID-19

April 17, 2020  • Aspen Digital

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, which continues to impact public health, the global economy, and life as we know it, known instances of cybercrime have more than tripled. During a webinar hosted on April 16 by Aspen Digital, FBI Deputy Assistant Director for the Cyber Division Tonya Ugoretz stated that the Bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center now receives 3,000 to 4,000 cybercrime reports per day, up from 1,000.

“There was this brief shining moment when we hoped that, gosh, cybercriminals 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,” said Ugoretz. “Sadly, that has not been the case.”

As Ugoretz explained, individuals and nation-states both are leveraging the national shift to online work and the resulting gaps in security to hack corporate computer systems, while cybercriminals prey on the public’s fears to commit fraud, promising the delivery of medical supplies and stimulus checks.

Yet many skilled and dedicated groups are taking down these threats at scale. One such effort is the Cyber Threat Intelligence League, which has assembled approximately 1,400 cybersecurity experts across 76 countries in just three weeks. During Thursday’s webinar, one of the League’s co-founders, Marc Rogers, vice president of cybersecurity at Okta, announced a few statistics on its impact to-date:

  • 2,833 malicious websites taken down
  • 2,500+ distinct phishing messages collected and analyzed
  • 2,000+ cybersecurity vulnerabilities detected in high-risk organizations (e.g., hospitals), with severe cases escalated to law enforcement

These numbers are just “the tip of the iceberg,” according to Rogers, and the Cyber Threat Intelligence League will soon release a comprehensive report that illustrates the full scope of its activities. “[There’s] a really, really pronounced appetite for good in the community.”

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March 24, 2020 • David Forscey