Researchers: 30,000% increase in pandemic-related threats

Bleeping Computer

Sergiu Gatlan

An increase of 30,000% in pandemic-related malicious attacks and malware was seen in March by security researchers at cloud security firm Zscaler when compared to the beginning of 2020 when the first threats started using COVID-19-related lures and themes.

On any given day, Zscaler's cloud security products are processing more than 100 billion transactions from over 4,000 enterprise customers, with 400 of them being on Forbes' Global 2000 list of the world’s largest public companies.

Roughly 380,000 malicious attacks and malware were detected during March 2020 said Deepen Desai, VP Security Research & Operations at Zscaler, in a blog post. "No, that is not a typo. Since January, we have seen an increase of 30,000% in phishing, malicious websites, and malware targeting remote users—all related to COVID-19," he said. "In January, we saw (and blocked) 1,200 such attacks. How many did we see in March? 380,000!"

This huge spike in threat activity exploiting the population's fears surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic from last month followed another large increase in February when Zscaler saw 10,000 coronavirus-themed attacks.

In all, Zscaler detected an 85% increase in pandemic-related phishing attacks targeting remote enterprise users, a 25% boost in malicious sites and malware samples blocked, and a 17% increase in threats directed at enterprise users.

The researchers also saw over 130,000 suspicious newly registered domains with COVID-19-related mentions including test, mask, ...

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