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How to avoid falling into coronavirus-related cybersecurity traps

Listen to find out how cyberattacks are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic according to two of Nokia’s top security experts.

Nokia today
Nokia today



Mary O’Neill 
Vice President of Security


Kevin McNamee 
Head of Threat Intelligence Lab

How to avoid falling into coronavirus-related cybersecurity traps

Marianne Strobel leads a discussion with Mary O’Neill and Kevin McNamee about how cyber criminals are looking to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis.

Key points:

  • Cyber criminals are looking to take advantage of people’s fear during a pandemic.
  • A fake COVID-19 map with a trojan and ‘Zoombombing’ into unsuspecting meetings are among popular schemes.
  • Companies should make sure users working from home are using a VPN and getting similar protections to the ones provided get in-office.

Mary O’Neill, Vice President of Security, and Kevin McNamee, who leads Nokia’s Threat Intelligence lab, said some security measures are common sense. Luckily, O’Neill said, the chief security officers she speaks with are reporting that many of their users and employees are staying sharp during the pandemic.
“I would say the IT departments have done an excellent job educating people about phishing and phishing attacks. What we’re actually seeing happening is we’re getting more people internally highlighting to IT organizations that, ‘This could be a phishing email,’ so people are more on-alert during this COVID crisis than they were before,” she said.
Of course, criminals are still adapting, with McNamee warning of techniques like utilizing fake Zoom apps that have malware embedded into them or Zoombombing, which sees a bad actor joining a poorly secured Zoom meeting to spam unpleasant or unwanted images or messages.
McNamee also has seen healthcare systems being targeted by cyber criminals who want to force hospitals or even government organizations to pay to get their information back quickly while under immense pressure because of the pandemic.
“I think one of the major sources of worry is these ransomware attacks. They’ve also been targeted at healthcare before COVID and, now that COVID is here, the danger of these ransomware attacks is much larger,” he said. “Basically, a hacker or team of hackers will break into somebody’s network, get access to their servers, and they’ll lock down and destroy the information or lock down and hold it for ransom. This can basically shut down things like hospitals and healthcare units for days or weeks.”
The most important thing is to be alert and think twice before you open anything that seems suspicious or comes from someone you don’t know. With wisdom, McNamee and O’Neill said, the curve of cyber criminals exploiting the pandemic can be flattened, as well.

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