Not only is 2020 the year of COVID-19, it’s also the year of COVID-19-related cyber attacks. In fact, COVID-19-related phishing attacks grew from under 5,000 in February to more than 200,000 in late April.

According to Check Point’s Cyber Attack Trends 2020 Mid-Year Report, all types of cyberattacks were up 34% from March to April. They also found that:

  • 94% of coronavirus-related attacks were phishing attacks, while 3% were mobile attacks.
  • At 42%, Excel files are the top malicious files across the web, followed by email (26%).
  • Hackers are using email to target people (78%) followed by web attacks (22%).
  • Cryptominers or cryptojackers—hackers that use someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurrency—made up nearly 20% of all cyber attacks. However, when cryptocurrency went down in value, there was a significant decrease in these types of attacks.

Furthermore, Check Point had previously reported that coronavirus-themed domains are 50% more likely to be malicious than others.

Additionally, in a news release by the World Health Organization (WHO), it was reported that the WHO had experienced a fivefold increase in cyber attacks themselves, “Scammers impersonating WHO in emails have also increasingly targeted the general public in order to channel donations to a fictitious fund.”

What to Look Out For

So now that you’re aware of the need for increased vigilance, what should you be looking out for?

Check Point reports an increase in the following types of attacks:

  1. An increased reliance on public cloud storage has seen more attacks targeting sensitive cloud data.
  2. Malicious apps in official app stores have increased, so be aware of any new apps you download—especially if they’re free.
  3. A new form of ransomware called “double extortion” sees attackers exfiltrating large quantities of data prior to encrypting it, threatening victims with leaking it if they don’t pay the ransom.

As this pandemic continues to affect our daily lives, so will COVID-19-related cyber attacks, so stay aware and stay vigilant while online!