COVID-19 Pandemic Drives Sharp Uptick in Misinformation, Fake Domains


  • Half of cybersecurity professionals
    regard misinformation as a major threat to the enterprise
  • 46% of organizations plan to improve
    their ability to react to misinformation and fake domains
  • Erosion of trust caused by
    misinformation poses ethical, social and technological challenges to
    organizations
  • 91% of IT security pros want the
    government to impose stricter measures to tackle misinformation
  • Cyberattacks climb 12 points on a benchmark
    tracking the level of threat and impact

The global
pandemic has given a considerable boost to misinformation and the registration
of fake domains, with bad actors using social engineering to spread misleading
news, falsified evidence and incorrect advice, according to a new report.

Cybersecurity
professionals polled by the Neustar International Security Council (NISC) in a
recent study admitted feeling uneasy about the rise in misinformation and fake
domains – seemingly driven by the hype surrounding the global pandemic.

48% of cybersecurity professionals said they regard the increase in misinformation as a threat to the business sector, particularly to large enterprises. And 49% rank the threat as ‘very significant,’ which is why 46% of organizations have ramped up cybersecurity efforts to ensure they can react to the rise in misinformation and fake domains. An additional 35% plan to do the same in the next six months, while another 13% would consider doing it if the issue doesn’t go away.

“Misinformation
is by no means new – from the beginning of time it has been used as a key
tactic by people trying to achieve major goals with limited means,” said NISC
chairman Rodney Joffe. “The current global pandemic, however, has led to a
sharp uptick in misinformation and the registration of fake domains, with
cybercriminals using tactics such as phishing, scams and ransomware to spread
misleading news, falsified evidence and incorrect advice. While the motives of
malicious actors may differ, the erosion of trust caused by misinformation
poses a range of ethical, social and technological challenges to
organizations.”

Since only a
fraction of security execs are confident in their organization’s ability to
identify misinformation and fake domains, most respondents want the government
to impose stricter measures on the internet.

The research
also highlights a 12-point year-on-year increase in the International Cyber
Benchmarks Index, calculated based on the changing level of threat and impact
of cyberattacks. According to NISC, the Index has risen steadily since May of
2017. During May of this year, DDoS attacks and system compromise
were ranked as the greatest concerns to cybersecurity professionals, followed
by ransomware and intellectual property theft.