COVID 19 & Malware Attacks – A Brief Insight into the Facts
In different forms and varying degrees of damage, potentially unwanted programs find their way into Internet users’ devices and wreak havoc on precious documents and data. These programs, under the umbrella name, malware have been around for most of the 21st century and have continuously grown in number and sophistication.
Effect of COVID-19 on Malware Attacks
This year 2020 has witnessed a significant trying period, caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused a substantial change to how humans live and work. Virtually every firm switched to remote work, and employees had to connect to their office networks through their home network.
This gave room for cyber-criminals to perpetrate a widespread malware attack on personal and office networks. The Federal Bureau of Information (FBI) recorded a 400% increase in the number of cyberattacks directed at individuals and organizations daily – amounting to about 4000 cases per day.
Click baits as COVID-related Information
Asides from the workspace-directed malware attacks, cyber-criminals were able to capitalize on people’s constant demand for Information by sending click-baits disguised as COVID-19 related Information on the use of masks, household preventive measures, etc.
One distinctive malware attack was in Canada, where cyber-criminals developed a clone of the official COVID-19 tracer app to be released to the public by the Canadian government. This application contained a ransomware called CryCryptor and was soon downloaded by a lot of people. Fortunately, a decryption solution was quickly released by ESET researchers, and the threat was neutralized.
These bogus numbers might make this malicious software seem like new malware types are developed daily, but in fact, they aren’t. Outlined below are the top 5 common categories of malware:
The decline in COVID-19 cases does not guarantee that malware infections would, in any way, reduce. Hence, individuals and organizations must take steps to secure their devices and networks from this menace. Explained below are the top 3 ways this can be achieved:
- Use layered security levels: This can be achieved through the use of antimalware software and firewalls. While firewalls help to prevent unauthorized access to a system, antimalware, which is a cheaper option for individuals, can use this to prevent any virus from making its way into their system.
- Use a VPN: Contrary to popular belief that a VPN is only useful for gaining access to geo-restricted content; you can improve security with a VPN as it helps encrypt your network data, especially when you are on unsecured public networks, where hackers on the same network can easily distribute malware.
- Employ best practices: Some of these best practices, such as using a strong password, enabling Two-factor authentication, and avoiding public Wi-Fi, are ways Internet users can also stay safe from malware attacks.