WHO Now Deals with More Cyber-Attack Amidst the COVID-19 Outbreak

A logo is pictured outside a building of the World Health Organization (WHO) during an executive board meeting on update on the coronavirus outbreak, in Geneva, Switzerland, February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse - RC2YUE95D6BJ

Earlier this month, hackers tried to break into the World Health Organization, and just in the last few days, there has been more attempt to break-in by Cyber Hackers

According to a senior agency official, since the outbreak of the coronavirus, cyberattacks have grown by two folds. The Chief Information Officer of WHO in person of Flavio Aggio stated that that the identity of the hackers was uncertain and they were unable to achieve their aim. Regardless, he has warned that the hacking attempts against WHO and its partners have mounted, as they try to fight this global pandemic.

Alexander Urbelis, a cybersecurity expert and attorney of the New York-based Blackstone Law Group was the first to pick up on the hackers’ activity around March 13. He mentioned that a group of hackers that he had been following activated a malicious site, impersonating the WHO’s internal email system.

In his words, “I realized quite quickly that this was a live attack on the World Health Organization in the midst of the pandemic”

Urbelis immediately signaled to Reuters as he noticed the irregularities. He, however, clarified that he does not know who is responsible for the act.

Two other sources who were briefed on the matter said they are suspecting a group of hackers known as Dark Hotel, which has been conducting cyber-spying operations since 2007.

So far, messages that have been sent to that email address maintained by those hackers weren’t responded to.

WHO’s Aggio in a telephone interview said that “There has been big increase in targeting of the WHO and other cybersecurity incidents”. He further confirmed that the site spotted by Urbelis had been used in an attempt to steal passwords from several agency staffers.

Last month, WHO published, stating that hackers are suspected to be posing as the agency to steal sensitive information and money from the public.

Following this, government officials in Britain, the United States, and few other countries have issued cybersecurity warnings about the dangers of working remotely.

Some cybersecurity firms such as Bitdefender and Kaspersky of Romania and Moscow respectively state that they have traced many of Dark Hotel’s operations to East Asia.

Costin Raiu, the head of global research and analysis at Kaspersky could not confirm that Dark Hotel was responsible for the WHO attack. However, he stated that the same mischievous web structure had also been used to target other healthcare and humanitarian organizations recently.

In all, Urbelis has warned that there are about 2,000 mischievous coronavirus themed web sites being set up daily.

At this rate, it is advised that everyone is extra careful. It would be a disaster to fall prey of these hackers in the midst of a global pandemic.


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