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Coronavirus

Europol Issues Warning about Pandemic Cybercrime

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The European Union police agency says in a new report that cybercriminals are cashing in on the coronavirus crisis by targeting people and companies that are spending more time online due to work-from-home orders.

Europol issued its annual Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment Monday. It underscores earlier warnings by the Hague-based police organization to the EU’s 27 member states about cybercrime during the pandemic.

The assessment covers all aspects of cybercrime. It cautions that “many individuals and businesses that may not have been as active online before the crisis became a lucrative target” for cybercriminals who are able to quickly adapt existing online crime to fit emerging vulnerabilities.

Criminals also used the global pandemic to spread disinformation about the virus for financial gain.

The report says that distributing fake news online about potential cures or treatments “facilitated criminals seeking to sell items that they claim will help prevent or cure COVID-19.”

Another element of cybercrime that has risen during the pandemic is the online distribution of images of the sexual abuse of children and livestreaming abuse. The report says that the COVID-19 crisis “revealed an extra surge in online distribution” of such material.

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