As COVID-19 continues to sweep across the nation, local governments are facing an additional obstacle: cyber attacks.
“We know that malicious emails, phishing attempts and ransomware attacks are up 40 percent,” Buncombe County Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Fletcher Tove said.
At a media briefing Friday, Tove warned health care and government employees of an increase in cyber attacks.
“We know that bad actors are pretending to be charities, The World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control and are asking for sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers and credit card numbers.” Tove said.
In Cleveland County, Shelby city offices are in recovery mode after a malware attack Wednesday.
The city’s computer system is down, and investigators like the North Carolina Department of Information Technology are investigating.
“Generally speaking, these hackers tend to leverage any type of crisis because they know that we are most vulnerable. The possibility of reducing and relaxing our security controls in order to meet the demands of what we are currently dealing with is generally present,” State Chief Risk Officer Maria Thompson said.
Thompson said cyber criminals taking advantage during a time of crisis is nothing knew. But, with millions of Americans now forced to work from home, new vulnerabilities can be exploited.
“We have an unprecedented number of teleworkers that are accessing devices, some from their personal devices into their corporate networks. So, there is definitely are larger attack space for them to take advantage of,” Thompson said.
Thompson is advising workers to be vigilant and back up information.
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