Interpol has warned of a potential increase in cybercrime scams exploiting the fact that some Covid-19 vaccines have been approved for use. The agency has highlighted that organized crime networks could target the vaccine supply chains, and also create various shady websites selling illegal and/ or fake products. Covid-19 vaccinations have entered into the market with promising results. Several countries around the world have approved their use as well. As these vaccines come closer to widespread acceptance and global distribution, ensuring the safety of the supply chain and identifying illicit websites selling fake products is going to be essential. Counterfeit vaccines or fake coronavirus tests have the potential to become a growing concern as international travel gradually resumes throughout the world. The dangers posed by consuming such fake medical supplies are not well researched and could lead to dangerous health issues. In other instances, criminal groups have taken advantage of the pandemic by hoarding medical supplies and essential goods.
Cyber Security Concerns: There has already been an uptick in global cybercrime as various lockdowns were issued by governments. Interpol’s cybercrime unit has identified more than 3000 websites suspected of selling illicit medical equipment, and over half of those harbored phishing and spamming software. Some of the other incidents of cybersecurity during the ongoing pandemic have been:
• Ransomware attacks on various targets including pharmaceutical manufacturers.
• Spurious websites hosting illicit and fake covid19 supplies.
• Websites and social media spreading fake news and misinformation.
• Sharp increase in phishing incidents. Considering these incidents, it becomes necessary for everyone to follow cybersecurity guidelines to protect their sensitive data and not fall prey to cybercrimes or any online scams.
General Cybersecurity guidelines:
● Do not click on any links that make dubious claims like selling Covid19 vaccines, free medical supplies, or offering unscientific and unverified treatments for the coronavirus.
● Ensure all software, applications, and systems are always up to date.
● Do not open untrusted email attachments.
● Protect all sensitive information with encryption.
● Use reputable antivirus software and a firewall.
● Companies must carry out a cybersecurity audit of their networks and remediate any weaknesses discovered.
● If you become a victim of ransomware attacks, never pay the ransom. Report the incident to the local law enforcement agency. Always report any cybercrime to your nearest police station or alternatively report it on www.cybercrime.gov.in.