#COVID19 Themed Attacks Surge by 605% in Q2

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COVID-19-related attack detections increased by 605% in Q2 compared to Q1 of 2020, according to McAfee’s Quarterly Threats Report: November 2020.

The security software company also revealed it had observed an average of 419 new threats per minute in this period, with overall new malware samples rising by 11.5%.

The continued rise of malicious Donoff Microsoft Office documents helped drive new PowerShell malware by 117% as well as a 103% increase in overall new Microsoft Office malware by 103%.

New coin-mining malware rose by 25% in Q2 compared with Q1, which was precipitated by the popularity of coin-mining applications. In addition, new Linux malware went up by 22% as a result of Gafgyt and Mirai Internet of Things (IoT) activity.

McAfee additionally observed a 22% overall rise in publicly disclosed security incidents in Q2 compared to Q1. There were some significant regional variations, with the number of disclosed incidents falling by 47% in the US, but increasing by 25% and 29% in Canada and the UK, respectively.

In regard to specific industries, incidents in science and technology went up by 91%, in manufacturing they increased by 10%, but a decline of 14% was observed for public sector events.

Overall, malware accounted for the highest amount of reported security incidents in Q2, representing 35% of the total. This was followed by account hijacking (17%) and targeted attacks (9%).

McAfee also revealed that there were nearly 7.5 million external attacks on cloud user accounts during this period.

Raj Samani, McAfee fellow and chief scientist, commented: “The second quarter of 2020 saw continued developments in innovative threat categories such as PowerShell malware and the quick adaptation by cyber-criminals to target organizations through employees working from remote environments.

“What began as a trickle of phishing campaigns and the occasional malicious app quickly turned into a deluge of malicious URLs, attacks on cloud users and capable threat actors leveraging the world’s thirst for more information on COVID-19 as an entry mechanism into systems across the globe.”

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