Guest Article by Mr.Bharat Panchal Chief Risk Officer – India Middle-East Africa, FIS
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a VUCA world, where every individual and organization has been
adversely impacted in one way or another. With a global lockdown to contain the spread of the disease,
businesses have shifted to remote working. This is undoubtedly a threat to most companies as their
network perimeters have expanded radically. So, what kind of nefarious scams should we expect in the
coming weeks and months?
Increase in phishing attacks: The COVID-19 crisis has seen a spike in phishing attacks that have resulted
in many people losing their hard-earned money. Scammers have launch phishing emails, websites, and
other forms of attacks. As more and more people, NGOs, and religious groups are engaged in providing
relief to needy, it has become easier for these fraudsters to impersonate them and solicit donations.
With the rise in job losses, there is also a possibility of a spurt in job hunting scams through dubious
agencies and websites.
KYC / Fake documents for 20 L Cr benefits: The Government of India has announced many beneficial
schemes to help small businesses such as interest / EMI waive-off for MSME, microloan for unorganized
vendors, moratorium of EMI for various loans up to 6-months. There is a high possibility of many bogus
agents approaching small business owners with fake offers of support in exchange for money, fraudsters
may use fake KYC documents to avail such benefits or could run a racket of fund diversion.
Insider Frauds: The financial stress from this economic crisis is what motivates many employees to make
their company itself as a target and misappropriate its assets. Companies need to be extra cautious to
safeguard their interests against insider frauds, especially because organizations tend to place a certain
amount of trust in their employees, making it difficult to detect these nefarious activities.
Massive increase in sextortion related crimes: It is a widely used form of spam attack where
cybercriminals extort money by claiming to have a person’s compromising pictures or evidence of their
sexual activity. They can hack into someone’s mobile phone or other electronic devices and steal those
videos/ photos or even morph a regular photo to make it look obscene. The attacker threatens to share
such evidence with the person’s friends and family and employer unless they pay ransom money.
Fake medicines / Anti-Corona drugs: In this pandemic, there will be many advertisements, websites,
and other forms of communication on medications, which may claim to cure COVID-19 completely.
Further, platforms promoting counterfeit medicines to boost immunity level will also appear in the
online market. Those fake websites ultimately lure people with the prospect of COVID-19 cure and
compel them to pay online in advance.
Increase ransomware attacks: As more organizations shift to remote working, regular system
maintenance like upgrades, applying patches, fixing known vulnerabilities, etc. have indeed suffered a
lot. There’s a very high likelihood of cyber criminals trying to gain unauthorized access to such systems
through unpatched vulnerabilities. Ransomware is the most effective tool they may use to encrypt your
data, and upon receiving hefty ransom money in the form of bitcoins, they may release the data.