Skip to main content

Coronavirus-related phishing email attacks up 600 percent

(Image credit: Image Credit: wk1003mike / Shutterstock)

Phishing emails related to the coronavirus have seen growth of 600 percent in the first quarter of 2020, according to a new report from cybersecurity training platform KnowBe4.

The company’s Q1 2020 phishing report states coronavirus-related phishing emails were the second most popular variety, after emails containing an urgent message to check passwords.

The “check passwords” variety accounted for 45 percent of threats, while coronavirus-related attacks were responsible for 10 percent.

Hackers also took advantage of social media platforms to distribute malware. Most clicked social media email subjects include new login alerts, password resets, and messages claiming the victim's account had been compromised.

For Stu Sjouwerman, CEO at KnowBe4, hackers abusing the global pandemic is “no surprise”, given how many people are searching for information.

“End users should be especially careful with any email they receive related to COVID-19 and immediately report suspicious looking emails to their IT department,” he explained.

“The bad guys are opportunists and they will use every chance they get to take advantage of people’s heightened emotions during crisis situations such as this one by trying to entice them to click on a malicious link or download an attachment laced with malware.”

Cybercriminals are also creating fake communications and collaboration tools, designed to take advantage of employees unfamiliar with remote working.