Thursday June 11, 2020

COVID-19: Mobile Cyber Security & Fraud Threat Observations and Incidents

Person looking at mobile phone smiling, light is reflecting on face in dark room

This report has been prepared by members of the GSMA Fraud and Security Group (FASG) management team which comprises the various subject domain sub-group leaders and global region leaders, together with the security leadership in the GSMA staff team.

The report provides a brief outline of mobile-related fraud and security concerns specific to the COVID-19 pandemic. This report covers the March-April 2020 timeframe and is based on open-source intelligence, submitted intelligence to the GSMA Fraud and Security Group and other public information including news reports.

Fraud and security issues have been re-targeted towards businesses shifting their practices towards home-working and consumers who are locked down. Campaigns of fraud are shifting towards manipulating consumer concerns and incentives – manipulating commercial, financial and official government outreach campaigns around COVID-19 via SMS and other messaging and voice channels, however it should be noted that due to mobile network operator controls in some countries, there has been little impact of such campaigns in those places. Some types of fraud are naturally decreasing due to the inability for the majority of the world to travel or to buy things in shops, whilst unattended offices have led to a rise in commercial/retail burglaries and PBX (Private Branch Exchange) hacking. With the evidence received, overall, at this current time, it appears that fraud remains roughly consistent with normal times, however further work is required to see the knock-on effect of these unprecedented events.

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