Massive Increase in WHO Hacking Attempts During Current Pandemic

Recent reports have indicated that the World Health Organization has been impacted by a spate of cyber attacks where web pages have been established to try and trick staff members into handing over passwords at the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

An attorney for New York-based cybersecurity experts Blackstone Law Group, Alexander Urbelis, was the first to discover the campaign on March 13.  On that date he saw that a cybercriminal  group he was tracking had registered a web page that was similar to  WHO’s internal email system. Due to this he sent some messages to email addresses that the site was registered with. However there was no answer to these emails.

Urbelis, speaking about the discovery of the hacking attempts to news agency Reuters said: “I realised quite quickly that this was a live attack on the World Health Organisation in the midst of a pandemic. It’s (the number of attacks taking place) still around 2,000 a day. I have never seen anything like this.”

It has yet to be confirmed who is to blame for the While it has not been confirmed who is responsible for managing the attacks, there has been much speculation that it is the work of a group of hackers known as DarkHotel – a group that has been in operation since 2007 and normally uses East Asia as an areas to attack. Due to the fact that a number of the focuses in this campaign have included included government employees and business executives in places such as China, North Korea, Japan, and the United States it is a reasonable deduction that they are involved. However, there is no evidence to back this up as of yet.

Flavio Aggio , WHO Chief Information Security Officer issued a release that confirming the attacks and the increase in campaigns being conducted against the organization. He said: There has been a big increase in targeting of the WHO and other cybersecurity incidents. There are no hard numbers, but such compromise attempts against us and the use of (WHO) impersonations to target others have more than doubled.”

Previously a public warning was shared by WHO warning of hackers pretending to be part of its organization and similar warnings released by many other agencies and governments around the world.