Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 

Cybercriminals Are Taking Advantage Of COVID-19 With New Attack Methods

NEW ZEALAND, 7 July 2020 – Microsoft today unveiled Asia Pacific findings from its latest Security Endpoint Threat Report 2019[1], which revealed that cybercriminals are making 60,000 COVID-19 related phishing attempts every day. Despite New Zealand remaining one of the least targeted countries in the region for cyberattacks, recent high-profile attacks in this country demonstrate the need to remain vigilant.

“The Microsoft Security Endpoint Threat report aims to create a better understanding of the evolving threat landscape and help organisations improve their cybersecurity posture by mitigating the effects of increasingly sophisticated attacks,” said Russell Craig, National Technology Officer for Microsoft New Zealand.

The findings were derived from an analysis of diverse Microsoft data sources, including 8 trillion threat signals received by Microsoft every day from January to December 2019. However, with the turn of the new year, COVID-19 has changed the landscape and remains the top-of-mind concern for individuals, organisations and governments around the world. Since the outbreak, the Microsoft Intelligence Protection team’s data has shown that every country in the world has seen at least one COVID-19 themed attack, and the volume of successful attacks seems to be increasing, as fear and the desire for information grows.

Of the millions of targeted phishing messages seen globally each day, roughly 60,000 include COVID-19 related malicious attachments or malicious URLs. Attackers are impersonating established entities like the World Health Organisation (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health to get into inboxes.

Craig explains: “According to our data, we found that COVID-19 themed threats are mostly rethreads of existing attacks that have been slightly altered to tie to the pandemic. This means that attackers have been pivoting their existing infrastructure, like ransomware, phishing and other malware delivery tools, to include COVID-19 keywords, to capitalise on people’s fear. Once users click on these malicious links, attackers can infiltrate networks, steal information and monetise their attacks.”

Asia Pacific continued to experience a higher-than-average encounter rate for malware and ransomware attacks – 1.6 and 1.7 times higher than the rest of the world, respectively. However, there is good news for New Zealand, which registered the second-lowest malware encounter rate across the region at 1.24 percent in 2019, a 39 percent decrease from last year. New Zealand also registered an all-time low ransomware encounter rate of 0.01 per cent, and the lowest volume of drive-by download attacks, at near-zero. These attacks involve downloading malicious code onto an unsuspecting user’s computer when they visit a website or fill out a form. The malicious code is then used by an attacker to steal passwords or financial information.

Even more encouraging, after registering the 11th highest cryptocurrency mining encounter rate across the region in 2019, New Zealand attacks fell 80 per cent in the past year. During such attacks, victims’ computers are infected with cryptocurrency mining malware, allowing criminals to leverage the processing power of their computers without their knowledge. The fall may be attributed to the fluctuation in cryptocurrency values and the increased time cryptocurrency takes to generate, which have caused criminals to seek alternative forms of cybercrime.

Despite that, Craig said a low threat was not the same as no threat when it came to cybercrime. New Zealand’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) reported recent attacks affecting businesses operating in New Zealand including brewery Lion, Fisher and Paykel, BlueScope Steel, transport and logistics company Toll Group (which was also targeted earlier in 2020) and Honda. Craig said that demonstrated why all businesses needed to remain vigilant, especially as more adopted remote working.

“With more employers shifting to modern workplace models that enable remote working in the wake of COVID-19, we’re seeing gains in wellbeing, flexibility and productivity, but every remote device is also a new potential access point to businesses’ IT platforms. Meanwhile, we’re now seeing attackers taking a more customised approach, targeting specific geographies, industries and businesses as well as taking advantage of the desire for more COVID-related information,” he said.

“New working models require up-to-date security, which means leveraging cloud technology and developing a comprehensive cyber resilience strategy. Everyone, both businesses and individuals, has a role to play in keeping their organisation safe.”

Guidance for businesses:

· Have strong tools to safeguard employees and infrastructure. This means looking into multi-layered defense systems and turning on multi-factor authentication (MFA) as employees work from home. Additionally, enable endpoint protection and protect against shadow IT and unsanctioned app usage with solutions like Microsoft Cloud App Security

· Ensure employee guidelines are communicated clearly to employees. This includes information on how to identify phishing attempts, distinguishing between official communications and suspicious messages that violate company policy, and where these can be reported internally

· Choose a trusted application for audio/video calling and file sharing that ensures end-to-end encryption

Guidance for individuals:

  • Update all devices with the latest security updates and use an antivirus or anti-malware service. For Windows 10 devices, Microsoft Defender Antivirus is a free built-in service enabled through settings
  • Be alert to links and attachments, especially from unknown senders
  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all accounts. Now, most online services provide a way to use your mobile device or other methods to protect your accounts in this way
  • Get educated on how to recognise phishing attempts and report suspected encounters, including watching out for spelling and bad grammar, and suspicious links and attachments from people you do not know

For more information on the findings published on the Microsoft Security Intelligence website, please visit: https://www.microsoft.com/securityinsights

[1] Research covered a total of 15 markets – Developing markets: China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam; developed markets: Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia; Source on market categorization: International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Database, October 2018

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Banking: Westpac NZ Lowers Merchant Fees For Small Businesses

Westpac NZ is rolling out a new merchant fee pricing structure that will lead to cost savings for more than 10,000 small and medium Kiwi businesses, and could make contactless transactions more widely available for customers. On 1 September, most ... More>>

REINZ: Million Dollar Plus Property Sales Increase 11.7% Nationally

The number of properties sold around the country for one million dollars or more during the first half (H1) of 2020 increased by 11.7% compared to H1 2019, with 5,426 million-dollar plus properties sold (up from 4,858 in H1 2019) according to the Real ... More>>

Waste: Government To Regulate Plastic Packaging, Tyres, E-Waste

The Government is stepping up action to deal with environmentally harmful products – including plastic packaging, tyres and e-waste – before they become waste. As part of the wider plan to reduce the amount of rubbish ending up in landfills, ... More>>

ALSO:

Bankers Association: Banking Becomes First Living Wage Accredited Industry

Banking has become New Zealand’s first fully living wage accredited industry, leading to nearly 1800 employees and contractors moving onto the living wage and gaining greater economic independence for them and their families. As of today, all ... More>>

ALSO:

Economy: Funding For 85% Of NZ Not-For-Profit Entities Impacted By COVID-19

Results of a recent Institute of Directors poll show that 85% of board members on not-for-profit organisations say COVID-19 has moderately or significantly affected their funding. The ‘pulse check’ conducted in the first two weeks of July looked ... More>>

Volcano Detection: Eruption Alert System Would Have Given 16 Hours’ Warning At Whakaari

An alert system that could have given 16 hours’ warning of last year’s eruption at Whakaari/White Island is ready for deployment, University of Auckland scientists say, with warning systems for Ruapehu and Tongariro the next priority. ... More>>


Property: Queenstown Rents Experience Biggest Drop In Seven Years

Rental prices in the Queenstown-Lakes district saw the biggest annual percentage drop in seven years after falling 28 per cent on June last year, according to the latest Trade Me Rental Price Index. Trade Me Property spokesperson Aaron Clancy said ... More>>

Seismology: The Quiet Earth

As many daily activities came to a halt during lockdown, the Earth itself became quiet, probably quieter than it has been since humans developed the technology to listen in. Seismologists have analysed datasets from more than 300 international ... More>>

RNZ: James Shaw Says Kiwibank, Not Ministers Should Decide On Investors

Climate Change Minister James Shaw says Kiwibank's decision to stop doing business with companies dealing in fossil fuels is the right one. More>>

ALSO:

FMA: Kiwis Confident Financial Markets Will Recover From COVID-19, Plan To Increase Investments

Despite the majority (60%) of investors experiencing losses as a result of COVID-19, the outlook on investing remains positive, according to a Financial Markets Authority (FMA) survey. Most Kiwis (71%) were optimistic that the pandemic will pass eventually ... More>>

FIRST Union: Warehouse Using Covid For Cover As Extensive Restructure Makes Everyone Worse Off

(FIRST Union comments on The Warehouse consultation and proposed restructure) 'Unfortunately the Warehouse have done the disappointing thing and used Covid-19 to justify a bunch of operational business decisions that will leave hundreds of workers without jobs ... More>>

ALSO:

Stats NZ: Mixed Performance By Regions Leaves National Emissions Picture Unchanged

Approximately two-thirds of New Zealand’s regions recorded decreases in their total greenhouse gas emissions, while one-third of regions saw increases between 2007 and 2018, Stats NZ said today. “While some regions reduced their emissions, ... More>>

RNZ: Economic Activity And Business Confidence Bouncing Back

Two surveys from ANZ show business confidence and economic activity have rebounded, but uncertainty about the future remains extreme. More>>

ALSO: