COVID-19 related malware and spam on the rise

By Amy Sarcevic
Wednesday, 13 May, 2020

COVID-19 related malware and spam on the rise

COVID-19 related malware and spam are on the rise globally, according to new research by Trend Micro Incorporated. The firm has uncovered a variety of malicious campaigns including email spam, BEC, malware, ransomware and malicious domains.

At 65.7%, spam was by far the most popular method to deliver an attack on enterprises — with mock shipment notifications and Ministry of Health announcements among the most prevalent examples.

Across the board, COVID-19 related spam has seen a 220-fold increase from February to March this year.

Trend Micro’s Director and Data Scientist, Dr Jon Oliver, said that in addition to the heightened threat landscape, businesses are more vulnerable to these campaigns with the increased prevalence of remote work during COVID-19.

“The shift to remote working has been a huge change for many businesses, as they have had to quickly adopt new technology and processes, which in turn has made many vulnerable to cyber attacks,” he said.

“Leveraging current or topical events in social engineering strategies is not a new tactic used by cybercriminals. However, with the unpredictability of the pandemic itself, we are seeing a steep rise in exploitations by cybercriminals using the virus as bait, playing into people’s worry, anxiety and perhaps lowered security during this time.

“Now more than ever, businesses need to ensure that their employees are being vigilant when it comes to cybersecurity practices. This includes revisiting security training and protocols with staff and ensuring they are securely set up to work from home.”

The research also found that the COVID-19-themed campaigns have reached the cybercriminal underground, with popular items such as toilet paper, N95 masks and ventilators being sold illegally.

Image credit: ©

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