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A global pandemic, tumultuous markets and a sudden shift to remote working is a perfect storm for cybercriminals, warns the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA).

In a bulletin to fund dealers, the MFDA said the Covid-19 outbreak, coupled with the immediate need to work from home and service clients remotely, has boosted cybersecurity risk.

“The confusion and evolving circumstances surrounding Covid-19 has created an environment ripe for exploitation by cybercriminals,” it said, adding that the frequency of cyber incidents is rising.

“Members have reported an increase in phishing attempts, including attempts that use the names of the MFDA and other regulators or government agencies,” it said.

The self-regulatory organization also noted that the “cybersecurity community is seeing an increased number of cyberattacks exploiting the Covid-19 outbreak at a time when people around the world are looking for answers and information to protect themselves.”

These attacks include malicious emails promoting maps of the outbreak, along with sales pitches for fake vaccinations and protective gear.

It also reported that a phishing campaign has circulated that uses an email disguised as an announcement from the World Health Organization about the outbreak.

Cyberattackers have also used software trojans to distribute ransomware, to steal data, and attempt extortion or operational disruptions.

“It is imperative that [fund dealers] continue to protect themselves against cybersecurity threats and consider the unique threats that the current environment has created,” the bulletin said.