Malta joins Interpol campaign against COVID-19’s cyber criminals

Malta joins international alliance led by Interpol to enhance cybersecurity during COVID-19 

Malta’s cybersecurity agency Cyber Security Malta and the Police Force are joining a global alliance led by Interpol to create awareness about cyber-safety during the COVID-19 pandemic with the aptly-named #WashYourCyberHands campaign. 

The alliance is formed by global law enforcement and cybersecurity communities to protect the public from data fraud. 

The campaign will help communities keep safe from cybercriminals exploiting COVID-19 to steal data, commit online fraud or simply disrupt the virtual world. 

The campaign highlight the top threats based on the data collected from various countries, private industry partners, national cybersecurity agencies and online information-sharing groups. 

Analysis of this data shows cybercriminals capitalizing on the anxiety caused by COVID-19 through data-harvesting, malware, ransomware, online scams and phishing. This data will be adapted for the Maltese scenario. 

Basic cyber hygiene advice – ‘washing your cyber hands’ – will be provided on a daily basis t the campaign, to ensure individuals and businesses are equipped with the knowledge of how to protect their systems and data. 

Craig Jones, INTERPOL’s Director of Cybercrime, said police and the cybersecurity industry have seen a considerable increase in the number of targeted cyberattacks by criminals since the virus outbreak began. These range from malicious web domains using the word ‘covid’, to phishing emails promising the sale of key supplies as well as ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure and hospitals. 

Clayton Bartolo, parliamentary secretary for financial services and digital economy, said the Maltese government wants to keep everyone safe, not only from a health perspective, but also for a digital point of view as more spend much of our personal and professional lives online.   

Tony Sultana, MITA executive chairman, said Malta was joining the rest of the world to create awareness and fight cybercrime.  “We are taking a pro-active approach on different levels.  For example, we are addressing cyber security issues for people working from home, along with prevention tips for companies,” Sultana said. 

Efrem Borg, head of information security at MITA, highlighted the work the agency has been doing to safeguard the government IT infrastructure so that the public is given the best service possible, including health care. 

Timothy Zammit, Inspector within the Malta Police Cyber Crime Unit, said the aim behind these campaigns goes beyond disseminating information to prevent crimes in the short term. “As society adapts itself to new realities, we want to see users become more aware of the risks involved so that they can interact safely online with more confidence. This new reality is here to stay,” he said.