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Hackers Targeting the COVID-19 Response


Last month, the United Kingdom and the United States issued a warning about ongoing cyberattacks against companies and institutions involved in the COVID-19 response.  Hackers have targeted health care institutions, academics, pharmaceutical companies, local governments, and medical research organizations.

Hackers trying to steal information related to COVID-19

Authorities report that the hackers target organizations frequently to collect intellectual property and intelligence, as well as personal information. Currently, developing a vaccine for the coronavirus pandemic is a top priority for every country.

Health care providers must remain alert

The U.K./U.S. warning reported large-scale ‘password spraying’ campaigns against medical research organizations and healthcare bodies in the past. Password spraying is when a hacker tries to access a large number of accounts by using common passwords. Therefore, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, a major area of concern is the possibility of cyber attacks against U.S. hospitals and labs.

Health care providers, hospitals, research laboratories and pharmaceutical companies, which are at the frontline of fighting COVID-19 pandemic, must stay alert to prevent any kind of breach by hackers. It remains extremely important for them to secure their networks properly, keep strong passwords, use authentic networks and update their cybersecurity tools.



Teaching Cybersecurity


One of the weakest points in cybersecurity is the human end-user.  One careless click by a user can render moot all the antivirus software, firewalls and other technical protections.

Therefore, education is essential.  The more awareness about cyber risks, the better.  A more prepared population can better defend itself.

One recent initiative marches forward on this path. The government of the UK recently launched a new virtual cyber security school.  The goal is to fight hackers and prevent cyberattacks by increasing awareness.  The new school will aim to encourage students to learn new skills while they are stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teaching cybersecurity to people of all ages

Cybersecurity education is important not just for adults, but for the young as well.  The UK’s initiative recognizes this and offers skills for young and old.

The idea is to offer youth interesting and useful skills and assignments like fixing security flaws and learning to crack codes. These include lessons on how to dissect the digital trails of hackers while progressing through a game as a cyber agent.

Teaching cybersecurity leads to greater actual cybersecurity

Industry experts will teach fundamental security disciplines like cryptography, digital forensics, and operating systems. With schools currently closed, the idea is to make use of internet to spread awareness about cybersecurity and allow teenagers to learn few essential things while staying at home.

Initiatives for teaching cybersecurity to the public are important.  Educational programs can ingrain an understanding and awareness about cyber threats that are crucial in order to help prevent them.  Such initiatives can usher in a culture of cyber awareness which will make the end user a much harder and more imposing target for hackers and other malicious actors.