Cybercriminals have taken full advantage of COVID-19 by launching themed phishing attacks in previously unseen numbers targeting both individuals and businesses.
As it appears that we’re turning a corner on COVID with some hopeful treatments and vaccines on the horizon, there is much we can learn about cyber attacks and cyber readiness during the pandemic.
According to new data from the U.K.’s HM Revenue and Customs, U.K. residents and businesses were subject to massive numbers of attacks by cyber criminals using the pandemic and all its complexities as the source of creating urgency on the part of victims to ensure the needed response.
The following details provide a picture of what was experienced during the months of March to September 2020:
- On average, the U.K. saw 45K email attacks per month – an increase from the previous average of just 26K
- Nearly 200K phone scams were reported over the six-month period
- Nearly 59K text message-based scams were reported
According to the data, it appears that cybercriminals nearly abandoned vishing and SMiShing methods of attack, in favor of phishing at the beginning of the pandemic. But these attack vectors returned to a more balanced utilization as the pandemic continued and cybercriminals were able to devise COVID-themed scams that were better-suited for voice and text mediums.
The data here suggests the larger the awareness and concern for an issue or topic, the better suited that issue is for a phishing scam. And, since we’re not out of the COVID woods just yet, it should be expected that both organizations and individuals alike will continue to see the bad guys taking the opportunities provided by world events to attack as many times and as many people and companies as possible.