The number of coronavirus COVID-19-related email attacks has increased by 667 percent since the end of February, according to a new report. A variety of phishing campaigns are taking advantage of the heightened focus on COVID-19 to distribute malware, steal credentials, and scam users out of money said the report from Barracuda Networks, a leading provider of cloud-enabled security and data protection solutions.
The attacks use common phishing tactics that are seen regularly. However, a growing number of campaigns are using the coronavirus as a lure to try to trick distracted users capitalise on the fear and uncertainty of their intended victims. Between March 1 and March 23, Barracuda researchers detected 467,825 spear-phishing email attacks, and 9,116 of those detections were related to COVID-19, representing about 2 percent of attacks.
In comparison, a total of 1,188 coronavirus-related email attacks were detected in February, and just 137 were detected in January. Although the overall number of these attacks is still low compared to other threats, the threat is growing quickly, the report added. Barracuda researchers said they have seen three main types of phishing attacks using coronavirus COVID-19 themes — scamming, brand impersonation, and business email compromise. Of the coronavirus-related attacks detected by Barracuda Sentinel through March 23, 54 percent were scams, 34 percent were brand impersonation attacks, 11 percent were blackmail, and 1 percent are business email compromise.