Hackers Target WHO Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic
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Hackers Target WHO Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic
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Hackers attempted to break into the World Health Organization (WHO) early this month. World Health Organization Information Security Officer, Flavio Aggio said the attempt did not succeed but warned that hackers have increased their attacks on the agency in the face of Covid-19 which has killed thousands of people worldwide.

WHO is a vital hub for research, advice, response coordination and factual reports during the Covid-19 pandemic. That it would be targeted by cybercriminals during a crisis is reprehensible, to say the least. Worse still those attacks have doubled in the recent past, says Flavio.


One such attempt is said to have come from a group of hackers known as DarkHotel. The group is suspected to have their base of operation in Asia; Korea, in particular, has been conducting cyber-espionage for more than 10 years

Reuters reported that the attack on WHO targeted passwords belonging to the agency staff and was first identified on March 13. Alexander Urbelis, a cybersecurity expert at Blackstone Law Group who first spotted the attack told Reuters “I realized quite quickly that this was a live attack on the World Health Organization, in the midst of a pandemic.”

Urbelis says he noticed suspicious activity on March 13 when hackers he had been tracking set up a malicious site impersonating the email system used by WHO staff. The fake site went online on March 13 but unknown to the hackers, Urbelis had already noticed suspicious activity and was already tracking their movements including their domain registration patterns. The unsuccessful password-stealing attempt was confirmed by Aggio in a conversation with Reuters.

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Jake Moore, a cybersecurity specialist at ESET says “Cybercriminals show no ethical boundaries and will continue to attack wherever there could be a vulnerability.”

“With the WHO playing a vital role in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, a successful attack that took its online capability down could potentially lead to the crisis lasting longer and so put lives at risk. ”

Cybersecurity experts hold that the most likely motive for the attack is to obtain information about on-going tests and vaccines as this information is highly valuable at this time. The experts are warning that cybercriminals intend to capitalize on international concern over the spread of Covid-19. Messages sent to addresses provided by hackers were unanswered.

 

A month ago, WHO published an alert warning that cybercriminals were posing as the agency to steal money and get sensitive data from the public.

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Hackers Target WHO Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic
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Hackers Target WHO Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic
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Hackers attempted to break into the World Health Organization (WHO) early this month. World Health Organization Information Security Officer, Flavio Aggio said the attempt did not succeed but warned that hackers have increased their attacks on the agency in the face of Covid-19 which has killed thousands of people worldwide.
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