“Secrets” of covid-19 motivate attacks and espionage on the Net | Cybersecurity

“Secrets” of covid-19 motivate attacks and espionage on the Net | Cybersecurity
“Secrets” of covid-19 motivate attacks and espionage on the Net | Cybersecurity
The pandemic caused by covid-19 motivated, according to the Annual Internal Security Report (RASI) of 2020, several espionage cyber attacks, mainly to the health sector in Portugal. “There were countless cyber attacks registered against institutions in the health sector, as well as cyber espionage operations against scientific research entities, particularly involved in the research of therapeutics and vaccines against covid-19”, reads the same document, which was this Wednesday delivered to the Assembly of the Republic (AR). These cyber attacks were “Persistent, technologically advanced, of state origin, aimed at important state information centers”. RASI also emphasizes the fact that computer attacks are “for the purpose of accessing classified information, with political and economic value”.

The report also reveals sabotage operations: “State actors continued to develop cyber espionage campaigns to access sensitive information, as well as to unleash cyber operations to sabotage, destabilize and affect the credibility of entities and individuals globally, but particularly in space countries Euro-Atlantic. ”

In this sense, it was also felt, in our country, “the phenomenon of digital disinformation, particularly through campaigns about the origin of covid-19 and other issues related to the pandemic, seeking to weaken the confidence of Portuguese society in responding to the crisis. ”.

The authorities also warn of the fact that the sophistication of this type of operations creates difficulties “in detecting computer attacks for the purposes of economic crime or crimes of sabotage, directed at companies and groups of companies with relevance in the national business fabric”.

They also leave harsh criticisms of the legislation regarding data retention, which they consider to be “an obstacle to the collection and preservation of evidence” in this type of investigations and point out the technology carrier grade network address translation, used by national operators, as a “relevant constraint” to the identification of perpetrators of crimes in national territory.

These criticisms are of real importance when the RASI reports an increase of 353 cases of computer crimes in Portugal in 2010. This represented an increase of around 26.8% in relation to 2019.

Legislation hinders investigation

One of the examples that the legislation creates barriers to investigation with respect to the collection of evidence are the cases of sexual exploitation of minors online, which also registered an increase in the investigated crime.

According to RASI, “the possession, distribution and sale of pornography of minors online is the one that reveals the highest degree of organization, involves flows between different countries and situations of online abuse are practiced, in general, by isolated individuals, Portuguese or living in Portugal ”. In other words, it does not assume characteristics of international organized crime.

It is in the common channels that this type of content is communicated and distributed, such as YouTube, Facebook, Google Drive and Instagram, but there has been an increase in the use of platforms mobile encrypted (Whatsapp, Telegram) to exchange images. The use of the network was also detected peer-to-peer for the acquisition and distribution of illegal files.

“In evolutionary terms, an increase in the use of platforms is expected mobile, chat and file exchange standard, by nature encrypted ”, says the report, according to which“ this form of criminality results from the alteration of the forms of personal relationship, with the virtual relationship having a weight practically identical to the face-to-face relationship ”.

Furthermore, “the use of mechanisms for the dematerialized exchange of illicit goods creates, in the authors, a sense of impunity and security that, in a way, enhances their will to commit such acts”.

Fraudulent use of credit cards

In 2020 there was also an increase in crimes related to fraudulent use of credit cards on online platforms.

RASI attributes this increase to the increasing ease and normality in the use of the Internet to purchase products or services, namely through the MBWay system that led to the committing of mass fraud.

With regard to the perpetrators of these frauds, there was a marked decrease in groups originating in Eastern Europe and an increase in networks originating in Brazil was noted.

The report warns of the fact that there is still a high percentage of situations closed due to the withdrawal of a complaint, due to the fact that, in the context of the contracts associated with the cards, the insurance companies pay the majority of the losses to national customers.

Portuguese banking system used to “launder” cybercrime funds

Another crime that reveals concerns due to its growth is money laundering, with cybercrime as a precedent crime. Advance the Annual Internal Security Report that there was an increase of Money Mules from Cameroon and Nigeria, residing in the European area (particularly France), who intentionally go to Portugal to set up commercial companies, with the sole purpose of opening bank accounts in the name of such companies for the laundering of funds originating from cybercrime, or on an individual basis, with a tendency to use forged documentation.

According to RASI, investigations have been carried out in this context that have made it possible to dismantle important groups in activity in Portugal, or that have used the Portuguese banking system for the commission of illicit acts.

“From a quantitative point of view, money laundering from cybercrime remains the most common in Portugal”, reads the report, which underlines that the funds are then transferred to IBAN from non-cooperating states, or carried by “mules” ”To host countries for criminal organizations. “It is a very widespread activity, and it is not expected to decrease in the short term”, reads the document.

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