May 23, 2020 - Technology

U.N. warns of growing cyberattacks during global pandemic

The United Nations flag waving around

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The United Nation's disarmament chief warned the U.N. Security Council on Friday of a rise in cybercrime during the coronavirus pandemic, with a 600% jump in malicious emails, AP reports.

Why it matters: Izumi Nakamitsu told the council that the uptick in attacks and vulnerability follows increased global digital dependency. She noted, "There have also been worrying reports of [cyber] attacks against health care organizations and medical research facilities worldwide" and other infrastructure since the virus outbreak.

Details: Nakamitsu said that one attack is estimated every 39 seconds. Roughly 90 countries around the world are still only in early stages of addressing cybersecurity issues, she noted, citing the International Telecommunications Union.

The state of play: Russia did not attend the informal virtual meeting, however, the 14 other council nations were present.

  • Russia said it did not attend because Estonia, the U.K. and U.S. violated "the established practice" that all council members attend formal meetings after the three countries opted out of attending a Russian-sponsored meeting on Crimea Thursday.
  • In March, the three nations accused Russia’s military intelligence of cyberattacks against government and media websites in Georgia.
  • Moscow then accused an unnamed “'elite’ minority,” of actively pursuing “the militarization of cyberspace by pushing forward the concept of 'preventive military cyber strikes,’ including against critical infrastructure,” per AP.
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