While the international community is fighting Covid-19, a new challenge is emerging: how to defend against potential cyberattacks. Politicians, including in Greece, find themselves having to replace their face-to-face meetings with phone or video calls.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and leader of the main opposition SYRIZA party Alexis Tsipras, for example, are certainly sending the correct message to citizens by not meeting in person. But it is questionable whether measures to guarantee the safety of online communications have been taken.
Recent reports about hackers targeting Greek government websites have exposed weaknesses. The alert should be higher now that the Covid-19 crisis has broken out and well-equipped offices are not being used. Intercepted talks might even pose a national threat in a period of tensions in Greek-Turkish relations.
It’s not just about the online conversations of politicians and other high-level officials, including military ones though. Employees in the public and the private sectors are now expected to use their personal computers from home for business purposes for a long period of time. Their personal data can be accessed by cybercriminals who are experts in exploiting vulnerabilities. Interpol, for instance, has already warned about financial fraud during the pandemic. This is particularly worrying for bank employees.
Last but not least, ordinary citizens can easily fall victim to phishing emails or fake websites. Some hackers cultivate online illusions about supposed cures for Covid-19 and tax refunds. And others ask for donations by replicating the logos of international organizations such as the World Health Organization.
The governmental campaign “Staying Home” has already yielded results. It’s now time to complement it in order to stay home cyber-safe.
* Dr George Tzogopoulos, senior fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and Centre International de Formation Europeenne (CIFE), teaches international relations at the Democritus University of Thrace.