NASA sees an “exponential” jump in malware attacks as personnel work from home

The words

Enlarge (credit: Christiaan Colen / Flickr)

NASA has experienced an exponential increase in malware attacks and a doubling of agency devices trying to access malicious sites in the past few days as personnel work from home, the space agency’s Office of the Chief Information Officer said on Monday.

A new wave

“A new wave of cyber-attacks is targeting Federal Agency Personnel, required to telework from home, during the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak,” officials wrote in a memo. The wave over the past few days includes a(n):

  • Doubling of email phishing attempts
  • Exponential increase in malware attacks on NASA systems
  • Double the number of mitigation-blocking of NASA systems trying to access malicious sites (often unknowingly) due to users accessing the Internet

The last item is particularly concerning because it suggests that NASA employees and contractors are clicking on malicious links sent in email and text messages at twice the rate as normal. Tricking people into clicking on malicious links or opening malicious email attachments remains one of the easiest ways to gain entry into enterprise networks and individual computers users alike.

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