Geneva: The World Health Organization (WHO) has seen a dramatic increase in the number of cyber attacks. The reported cyber attacks have been directed at WHO staff, and email scams targeting the public at large.
This week, some 450 active WHO email addresses and passwords were leaked online along with thousands belonging to others working on the novel coronavirus response.
“Ensuring the security of health information for Member States and the privacy of users interacting with us a priority for WHO at all times, but also particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful for the alerts we receive from Member States and the private sector. We are all in this fight together,” said Bernardo Mariano, WHO’s Chief Information Officer.
The leaked credentials did not put WHO systems at risk because the data was not recent. However, the attack did impact an older extranet system, used by current and retired staff as well as partners, revealed a press note from WHO.
Scammers impersonating WHO in emails have also increasingly targeted the general public in order to channel donations to a fictitious fund and not the authentic COVID-19 Solidary Response Fund. The number of cyber attacks is now more than five times the number directed at the Organization in the same period last year.
WHO is now reportedly migrating affected systems to a more secure authentication system.
WHO has asked the public to remain vigilant against fraudulent emails and recommends the use of reliable sources to obtain factual information about COVID-19 and other health issues.