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New cyber threats appeared at a rate of 375 per minute in Q1

(Image credit: Pixabay.com)

The coronavirus outbreak proved lucrative for cybercriminals, with malware, ransomware and cryptominer attacks rampant during the first quarter of 2020.

According to a new report from security firm McAfee, although the the number of new malware strains fell in Q1, the total volume of malicious samples identified grew significantly.

The company claims to have seen an average of 375 new threats every minute, with total attack volume growing 27% percent over the past four quarters.

The new PowerShell malware was particularly pervasive, with incidences growing by 688 percent during the quarter.

As for ransomware, the total attack volume has increased by a third (32 percent) over the course of 12 months, with new ransomware strains falling 12 percent in the first quarter.

Businesses also disclosed many more incidents, especially those in the public sector, education and manufacturing industries. Almost half of the disclosed incidents also occurred in the United States.

“Thus far, the dominant themes of the 2020 threat landscape have been cybercriminal’s quick adaptation to exploit the pandemic and the considerable impact cyberattacks have had,” said Raj Samani, McAfee Fellow and Chief Scientist.

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

McAfee claims that hackers mostly focused on industries where availability and integrity are “fundamental” - namely manufacturing, law and construction.