Cyber criminals targeting C-suite using artificial intelligence amid COVID-19: report
Cyber criminals are increasingly targeting C-suite executives to extort money from large corporations amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that has pushed millions to work from home, according to a new report from cyber analytics provider CyberCube.
CyberCube believes that insurers need to take a "forward-looking view of cyber threats" like ransomware as criminals are looking to exploit vulnerabilities. Organised criminals and hackers are moving away from “high volume, low-value” methods of attack to, instead, carefully selecting senior managers who have access to organisations’ bank accounts and are in a position to authorise payments.
The report noted that criminals are also predicted to use artificial intelligence to construct algorithms that will ‘hunt’ for individual targets while deciding which of their “buttons to press” in order to obtain the maximum degree of compliance.
The report predicts that criminals will more closely calibrate their ransom demands to an organisation’s financial performance, data assets and other measurables - this includes appetite and ability to pay ransoms.
Overall, the report contends that the nature of ransomware attacks is changing with greater focus on organisations rather than private individuals. According to figures from cyber security specialist Symantec, the volume of cyber attacks focusing on consumers has fallen from 69 percent in 2016 to 19 percent in 2018. At the same time, payment demands are increasing, rising to millions of dollars in some instances.
Oliver Brew, CyberCube’s head of client services, said: “The business model for cyber crime is evolving rapidly. Threat actor groups are conducting campaigns and adjusting their models to extract greater value from a smaller number of attacks. Recently, we’ve seen some very sophisticated and aggressive organised criminal groups conduct carefully targeted ransomware attacks, which mark a move away from the traditional high volume, low-value approach.”
Yvette Essen, CyberCube’s head of content, added: “Criminals are realising that ransom demands of millions of dollars are achievable when the target becomes a corporation rather than lots of consumers. The danger now is that the Coronavirus outbreak is creating the ideal conditions for ransomware attacks to flourish. With widespread working from home, increased internet traffic, increasing use of technology for what were face-to-face transactions, corporations must increase their vigilance.”
Darren Thomson, head of cyber security strategy for CyberCube, said: “Insurers need to take a forward-looking view of cyber threats like ransomware. That’s why CyberCube is investing in research and development necessary to help the insurance industry anticipate how these attacks are evolving. It’s important to remember that the amount of ransomware attacks like Travelex which have gone public are just the tip of the iceberg.”