Warning as cybercriminals target social and tax payments linked to COVID


Working from home during COVID-19 shutdowns has triggered an exponential growth in online fraud and telecommunications, according to tech company Citadel Group.

“People are very sensitive to a number of issues around COVID right now, and so are open to the types of hooks or barbs that scammers will tackle,” Citadel CEO Mark told AAP. McConnell.

Scammers negotiate on social and tax benefits related to COVID and the availability of drugs, using calls, texts and emails to target people’s personal information and create a profile ready to be exploited.

“Scammers are particularly opportunistic during COVID and they capitalize on the fact that people are at home and that they are more likely to drop out,” said Mr. McConnell.

He pointed out that computing used in work-from-home setups is an issue, with older laptops or hard drives likely to be running outdated antivirus software, patches and security upgrades.

Scammers negotiate on COVID-related social and tax benefits and the availability of drugs, using calls, texts and emails. Credit: Getty Images

“The server sitting under your desk or in your cabinet, it’s not monitored 24/7, it’s open to all levels of attack,” he said.

“The wormhole they come in are redundant versions of licenses, unsupported software, unpatched software.”

Citadel Group chief information security officer Rahul Khurana told AAP that updating machines and migrating data to the cloud should help.

“It protects you from a lot of vulnerabilities,” he said.

In the first half of 2021, Australia was the third most hacked country in the world behind the United States and the United Kingdom, according to a recent report by global consulting firm Accenture.

Accenture found that Australia accounted for 11% of global cyber attacks, with a 125% increase in global cyber intrusions compared to the same period last year.

Some large Australian companies have suffered cyber attacks during the pandemic. Nine Entertainment was hit in March, endangering the organization’s news bulletins and nightly TV broadcasts.

In 2020, two ransomware infections at Toll disrupted the delivery of goods and services across the country, with Telstra, Optus and Woolworths among those affected when Toll went offline.

Last year, Chinese hackers launched a major attack on Australian government networks, including the defense and health departments, while universities and businesses were also targets.

The growing attacks have led the federal government to warn that Australian organizations are under sustained digital assault.

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