Around the world, public health officials are analyzing the coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission in countries with earlier outbreaks in effort to model scenarios, refine preparations, and identify mismanagement and best practices in dealing with the devastating epidemic. With Italy being a hotspot, we at Q6 Cyber set out to analyze recent cybercriminal and fraud activity there so as to learn what we can anticipate in other parts of the world where the epidemic is on the rise.
Not surprisingly, we saw a spike in cyberattacks and fraud campaigns targeting Italian corporations and consumers. Bad actors, especially sophisticated ones, view the current epidemic as a golden opportunity and are deploying more resources toward criminal operations in Italy. Leveraging our unique access to invitation-only Dark Web and Cybercriminal Underground sources, we observed cybercriminals and fraudsters discussing the opportunities and vulnerabilities created by seismic shift in daily life in Italy:
With the pandemic picking up steam around the world and more countries implementing shutdowns and other restrictive measures, we expect cybercriminals and fraudsters to double down their attacks and take advantage of the same dynamics playing out in Italy. Undoubtedly, organizations must first address the well-being of their employees, customers, and other stakeholders, and ensure continuity of business operations. At the same time, to avoid mounting fraud losses and damaging cyberattacks during this vulnerable period, organizations must empower anti-fraud and security teams with the necessary resources and tools. For example, implementing robust processes and controls for remote employee access, or e-crime intelligence to proactively identify financial mules, are important initiatives that organizations should immediately consider taking.