4iQ COVID-19 Threat Report 2020

As global entities cope with safety and business continuity, cybercriminals are relentlessly capitalizing on the pandemonium caused by COVID-19. Not only is this outbreak impacting our physical sphere, but the risk narrative in cyberspace is just as alarming. In the wake of COVID-19, 4iQ has observed an increase in a host of scams, including sextortion/blackmail emails, fake news, ransomware, phishing campaigns and credential harvesting.

The COVID-19 Threat Report offers insights into the following cyber threats and the impact they are having on consumers and businesses worldwide as well as blackmarket trends and active threat actors during the pandemic: 

  • Sextortion email scams are on the rise. Cybercriminals are attempting to extort money from victims by threatening to reveal something embarrassing about them. The attack scheme exploits the COVID-19 crisis and follows similar patterns as other sextortion scams, with some variation.
  • At this time, the aim of fake news/hoax campaigns is usually political, seeking to destabilize countries in the international arena, influence the stock market or affect the public’s perception of global governments and/or political parties.
  • The healthcare sector, such as hospitals, medical organizations or pharmaceutical companies, have been targets of several ransomware campaigns carried out by hacker groups during COVID-19.
  • Phishing campaigns also referred to as business email compromise (BEC), are heavily targeting companies. Cybercriminals are sending virtual messages masquerading themselves as legitimate organizations, targeting hundreds of millions of institutions each day. These messages may contain a malicious attachment or lure recipients to bogus websites where they capture their personal information.
  • 4iQ has seen a surge in downloaded social media applications, creating a lot of traction on underground forums. Cyber criminals are turning towards these apps to steal access credentials including corporate virtual meetings. In turn, this stolen breached data is sold in black markets and exposed in the deep and dark web.

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