Email attacks rise 667% since Feb-end; phishing set to increase: security firm

Email attacks rise 667% since Feb-end; phishing set to increase: security firm
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26 Mar, 2020

Email-related attacks have seen an increase of 667% since February end, cloud-enabled security and data protection solutions provider Barracuda Networks said in a report.

The Campbell, California-based company said it detected 4,67,825 spear phishing email attacks between March 1 and March 23. 

At 9,116, about 2% of those attacks were related to Covid-19, it added.

In comparison, February saw 1,188 Coronavirus-related email attacks, while only 137 were detected in January, the company said.

Attackers are taking advantage of the global fear and panic surrounding Covid-19 to lure people into opening attachments on malicious emails or click on phishing links, multinational cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks said.

“This is not a single attack or event campaign, but widespread use of virus-related themes. We’ve identified malicious emails using subjects containing Covid-19 and related keywords carrying Remote Administration Tools (RATs) like NetWire, NanoCore and LokiBot, as well as other malware,” the Santa Clara, California-based firm said.

Phishing campaigns are taking advantage of the pandemic to distribute malware, steal credentials and scam users out of money, the company said.

Of all the Coronavirus-related attacks through March 23, researchers found that 54% were scams, 34% brand impersonation attacks, 11% blackmail and 1% business email compromise, the Barracuda said in its report.

Some scams Barracuda detected included people selling Coronavirus cures, seeking investments to develop vaccines and requesting donations for fake charities. For example, a fake organisation called the World Health Community -- which sounds similar to the World Health Organisation -- sought donations to a Bitcoin wallet provided in the email.

Palo Alto Networks said there have been multiple cases of malicious Android applications, which claim to offer information about Covid-19, reported. Once installed, they allow the attacker to spy on individuals through their devices, or encrypt the device and hold it for ransom, the company said.

It is best to only download apps from trusted sources, such as the Google Play store and the App Store, it added.

Both the security firms said that more sophisticated Covid-19 related attacks will be launched in the next couple of months.