Coronavirus: UK has ‘clear evidence’ cybercriminals are targeting firms

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab at the daily coronavirus media briefing at Downing Street. (Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/via AP)

The UK government now has “clear evidence” that “particularly dangerous” cybercriminals are targeting organisations and firms that are responding to the coronavirus crisis, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said on Tuesday.

“We know that cybercriminals and other malicious groups are targeting individuals, businesses, and other organisations by deploying COVID-19-related scams and phishing emails,” Raab said.

UK government teams have identified campaigns targeting healthcare bodies, pharmaceutical companies, research organisations, and various different arms of local government, he noted.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre and the US Infrastructure Security Agency on Tuesday published a joint warning about the malicious groups, offering advice on the cyber criminals and other actors trying to exploit the coronavirus crisis.

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Raab said that the motivations behind the cyber attacks varied, but noted that they ranged from fraud to espionage.

Many of the scams aimed to steal bulk personal data, intellectual property, and wider information, he said.

“Whilst the vast majority of people and countries have come together and rallied to this international mission, to defeat coronavirus, there will always be some who seek to exploit a crisis for their own criminal and hostile ends,” Raab warned.

Raab said that the malicious activity would “continue to evolve,” and added that government advice would help targets mitigate or prevent attacks from “hostile states” and “criminal gangs.”

“We’ll share advice on the nature of those threats to enable businesses, citizens, and our international partners to better defend themselves against the full range of cyber attacks,” he said.

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The comments on cyber threats came after Raab confirmed that the government again failed to meet its target of 100,000 coronavirus tests per day. Just over 84,800 tests were carried out on Monday.

Some 194,990 people have now tested positive for coronavirus in the country, an increase of 4,406 from the previous 24-hour-period.

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