Coronavirus email phishing attacks balloon 667% in March 2020 as hackers capitalise on pandemic fear

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Phishing Emails relating to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic increased by 667% since March 1st.

The massive increase, reported by Barracuda Networks, comes as social engineers attempt to leverage the increased levels of panic and urgency surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19.

Between March 1st and March 23rd, the online security firm recorded a total of 467,825 spear phishing attacks, of which 9,116 were related to COVID-19. This represents around 1.95% of the total recorded attacks, an astounding increase when compared against previous months:

  • In February, 1,188 COVID-19 related emails were recorded.
  • In January, 137 COVID-19 related emails were recorded.

That’s a 667% increase in just the last month, and almost 10 times that (6,654%) over the last two months.

These leaps and bounds in the concentration of phishing attacks remind us that hackers do not play by the same rules as the rest of us. While the world is having to significantly slow down to accommodate for the changes brought about by lock-downs and self-isolation regulations, hackers have been working overtime to increase the number of victims they can steal from.

It is of vital importance that users are trained to spot these phishing emails to avoid magnifying the damage already caused by the coronavirus to families and organisations.

To help reduce the impact of these phishing attacks we at Phishing Tackle are offering 3 months free to all global healthcare organisations. As healthcare has become a significant and obvious target for hackers, the impact of a successful phishing attempt can in some cases have life-threatening results.

We urge all organisations to educate their users on how to spot phishing emails, and have created several tools to aid in this cause. Our Free Click-Prone® Test reveals how many of your users are susceptible to clicking on a phishing email and even includes coronavirus templates.

While the duration and extent of the current lock-down remains uncertain, one thing is guaranteed; Hackers will continue to target unsuspecting users in order to steal or otherwise cause harm. Security awareness training is the single most cost effective way to reduce the effectiveness of these attacks and safeguard your business and personal lives.