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Pandemic drove criminal and political cyberattacks across the globe

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/lolloj)

Cybercriminals, state-sponsored hacking groups and political organizations used the Covid-19 pandemic to target rival organizations across various sectors, according to a new report from Check Point.

The report states that governments, healthcare service providers, critical infrastructure organizations and consumers have all been targeted by a barrage of cyberattacks, which have increased in volume substantially.

In late April, Check Point registered more than 200,000 attacks related to Covid-19, up from less than 5,000 in early February. The end of June, meanwhile, saw a 34 percent jump in all types of cyberattack, compared to March and April.

The report states that countries and state-sponsored hacking groups mostly sought to either gather intelligence or disrupt rivals’ handling of the pandemic Cybercriminals, meanwhile, leant towards towards double-extortion attacks, in which sensitive data is stolen and a ransom demanded for its safe return.

Mobile infection vectors have also risen in popularity, with criminals managing to successfully bypass security protections and insert malicious apps into app stores. In many cases, criminals even managed to infiltrate large organizations’ mobile device management systems to distribute malware.

“The global response to the pandemic has transformed and accelerated threat actors’ business-as-usual models of attacks during the first half of this year, exploiting fears around COVID-19 as cover for their activities," said Maya Horowitz, Director, Threat Intelligence & Research at Check Point. 

"We have also seen major new vulnerabilities and attack vectors emerging, which threaten the security of organizations across every sector. Security experts need to be aware of these rapidly evolving threats so that they can ensure their organizations have with the best level of protection possible during the rest of 2020.”