As much of the world grapples with the new coronavirus, COVID-19, and how to handle it, attackers are taking advantage of the widespread discussion of COVID-19 in emails and across the web, according to security firm Barracuda Networks.
Barracuda researchers have seen a steady increase in the number of coronavirus COVID-19-related email attacks since January, but they have observed a recent spike in this type of attack, up667-percent since the end of February.
Between March 1 and March 23, Barracuda Sentinel has detected 467,825 spear phishing email attacks, and 9,116 of those detections were related to COVID-19, representing about 2 percent of attacks.
In comparison, a total of 1,188 coronavirus-related email attacks were detected in February, and just 137 were detected in January.
Although the overall number of these attacks is still low compared to other threats, the threat is growing quickly.
Barracuda researchers have seen three main types of phishing attacks using coronavirus COVID-19 themes — scamming, brand impersonation, and business email compromise. Of the coronavirus-related attacks detected by Barracuda Sentinel through March 23, 54 percent were scams, 34 percent were brand impersonation attacks, 11 percent were blackmail, and 1 percent are business email compromise.
Goals of the attacks ranged from distributing malware to stealing credentials, and financial gain.