Ars Technica reports that NASA has experienced an exponential increase in malware attacks and a doubling of agency devices trying to access malicious sites in the past few days as personnel work from home, the space agency’s Office of the Chief Information Officer said on Monday.
A new wave
“A new wave of cyber-attacks is targeting Federal Agency Personnel, required to telework from home, during the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak,” officials wrote in a memo. The wave over the past few days includes a(n):
- Doubling of email phishing attempts
- Exponential increase in malware attacks on NASA systems
- Double the number of mitigation-blocking of NASA systems trying to access malicious sites (often unknowingly) due to users accessing the Internet
The last item is particularly concerning because it suggests that NASA employees and contractors are clicking on malicious links sent in email and text messages at twice the rate as normal. Tricking people into clicking on malicious links or opening malicious email attachments remains one of the easiest ways to gain entry into enterprise networks and individual computers users alike.
NASA’s mitigation blocking mechanisms—which likely include blocking access to servers deemed to be malicious or suspicious as well as stopping malicious downloads—can go a long way in reducing the damage that happens when agency computers try to access these destinations. These mitigations aren’t foolproof, so it’s important that personnel be trained to recognize phishing attempts and act accordingly.
The risk to all types of attacks is only heightened by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has sent millions of people working from home almost overnight, with little time for IT departments to formalize procedures for maintaining the security of organization networks.
Cybercriminals are exploiting fears around the COVID-19 pandemic to tailor their threats, and businesses are feeling the effects: 71% of security professionals surveyed have seen an increase in security threats or cyberattacks since the coronavirus outbreak began, researchers report.
Check Point and Dimensional Research polled 411 IT and security professionals to learn how the pandemic has created new challenges. The most prominent threat is phishing, as cited by 55% of respondents, followed by malicious websites promising information on the pandemic (32%). Practitioners have also seen increases in malware (28%) and ransomware attacks (19%). Continued at Ars Technica: