How does the Covid-19 crisis constitute a turning point in the consideration of the cyber threat?
Cyber threat has always been part of our digital life, but one year after the start of the Covid-19 health crisis, what assessment can we make in terms of cybercrime? The year 2020 was marked by an explosion of cyber attacks that affected healthcare structures, large companies, local authorities… Already disorganized by the pandemic, victims sometimes had difficulty recovering. But this year was also the occasion of an awareness by the public sector of the importance of computer security. Thus, for the first time, the government presented a national strategy after several years of inertia, which today are costly.
No sector is spared. Hospitals, medical research institutes, biotechs, digital service companies (ESN), the food industry, local authorities, jurisdictions … All are regularly targeted by criminals who are constantly adapting to the changing behavior and trends on the Internet. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic is no exception to this situation.
TARGETING CARE STRUCTURES – An important cyber threat
The watchword of criminals: “strike where it hurts”. Thus, the promise made by some of them in early March 2020 not to attack hospitals around the world, whose functioning was severely degraded by the massive arrival of infected patients, was not respected.
Indeed, at the end of March 2020, the Ile-de-France hospital group the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) was the target of a denial of service (DoS) attack, the purpose of which is to make a server inaccessible by the ‘sending many requests to saturate it, causing a failure or severely degraded operation. Luckily, “the attack which lasted an hour (…) never reached the infrastructure”, reassured a spokesperson for the AP-HP.
But not all hospitals are as well protected as the AP-HP, which is the largest hospital in France. Recently, the Villefranche-sur-Saône and Dax hospitals were victims of ransomware. These incidents caused postponements of operations because some medical equipment and patient records were inaccessible. The situation has not yet fully recovered in the Dax establishment.
MEDICAL RESEARCH DATA
Cybercriminals have also attacked structures involved in seeking treatment for Covid-19. The goal: to steal data to resell it at a high price on the Internet. A very lucrative business in the midst of the vaccine race. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) was attacked, the AstraZeneca laboratory and the Biotech Moderna also.
More generally, the year 2020 was marked by targeted attacks on high value prey in terms of cyber threat. The trend is therefore towards “Big Game Hunting”. “The latter implements attack methods and techniques previously reserved for computer espionage operations operated by state attackers (0-day vulnerability exploitation, manual and stealthy propagation)”, explains ANSSI ( French National Agency for the Security of Information Systems) in its report ” Ransomware Threat Status ”.
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