Asian countries have faced a wave of cyber attacks seeking to take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak, news agency PTI reports.
According to a Microsoft executive, criminals have been taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to defraud people using ransomware and phishing attacks. In India, more than 9,000 coronavirus-themed attacks have been detected over the past three months.
“Between February 2 and May 2, we saw 9,100 total file encounters related to COVID-19 or coronavirus,” Microsoft corporate vice president (Cybersecurity Solutions Group) Ann Johnson told reporters on a conference call. “It means our detection tools actually saw malware or URL or an attachment or a phishing email that was using COVID-19 as a lure to get somebody to download malware to the system or potentially to give up their credentials via a phishing attack.”
Across Asia, around 19 million such attacks were recorded in the same period – making India one of the countries in the region least affected among those that Microsoft tracks.
This suggests that India “had some pretty good controls in place“, Johnson said.
She went on to note that many of the attacks targeted employees with phishing lures and malware.
“That is exacerbated by the fact that workforces are now largely remote and under a lot of stress. They may not have been equipped in their homes to work remotely.”
Enterprises need to have “digital empathy” as employees are working remotely, potentially outside of the company’s firewall, Johnson explained.
The Microsoft executive urged organisations to ensure that employees are given the necessary tools and education, and that they know where to turn if they face any issue.
As part of our Cybersecurity Asia series we look at how India’s ongoing digital transformation has coincided with a rise in cybercrime.