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Top UN official warns malicious emails rise by 600% amid pandemic

Science & Military2020-05-24


UN disarmament chief Izumi Nakamitsu warned Friday that cybercrime is on the rise, with a 600-percent increase in malicious emails during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nakamitsu told an informal meeting of the UN Security Council that the coronavirus crisis is moving the world toward increased technological innovation and online collaboration. But "there have also been worrying reports of (cyber) attacks against healthcare organizations and medical research facilities worldwide."

She said growing digital dependency has increased the vulnerability to cyberattacks and that it is estimated that an attack takes place every 39 seconds.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, nearly 90 countries are still only at the early stages of making commitments to cybersecurity.

Nakamitsu said the threat from misusing information and communications technology is "urgent." But there is also good news, pointing to some global progress at the United Nations to address the threats by a group of government experts who developed 11 voluntary, non-binding norms of responsible state behavior in the use of such technology.

Estonia's Prime Minister Juri Ratas, whose country holds the Security Council presidency and organized Friday's meeting, said the need for "a secure and functioning cyberspace" is more pressing than ever. He condemned cyberattacks targeting hospitals, medical research facilities and other infrastructure, especially during the pandemic.

"Those attacks are unacceptable," Ratas said. "It will be important to hold the offenders responsible for their behavior."


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