Back to top

Covid-19 cyber threats top the list


Trend Micro director Myla Pilao

Tech Reporter

 Covid-19 related threats were the single largest type of threat in the first half of the year. In just six months, Trend Micro blocked 8,8 million Covid-19-related threats, nearly 92% of which were email-based.

Cybercriminals shifted their focus from January through June to take advantage of global interest in the pandemic. The risk to businesses was compounded by security gaps created by a completely remote workforce.

Trend Micro director of marketing Myla Pilao says the pandemic dominated all lives during the first half of 2020, but not slowing down the cybercriminals.

“IT leaders must continue to adapt their cyber security strategies to account for increased threats to their new normal.

That means protecting remote endpoints, cloud systems, user credentials and VPN systems, as well as refreshing training courses to turn that newly dispersed workforce into a more effective first line of defense,” she says.

In total, Trend Micro blocked 27, 8 billion cyber threats in the first half of 2020, 93% of which were email-borne.

Business email compromise (BEC) detections increased by 19% from the second half of 2019, in part due to scammers trying to capitalize on home workers being more exposed to social engineering.

Among all the threats in the first half of the year, ransomware was a constant factor. Although the number of detected ransomware threats decreased, Trend Micro saw a 45% increase in new ransomware families compared to the same time last year.

Global organisations have also been burdened by a significant spike in newly disclosed vulnerabilities.

Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) published a total of 786 advisories, representing a 74% increase from the second half of 2019.

Some of these came as part of Microsoft Patch Tuesday updates, which have fixed an average of 103 CVEs per month so far in 2020; including the largest number of patches ever issued in a single month, 129 in June.

Trend Micro also observed a 16% increase in vulnerabilities disclosed in industrial control systems (ICS), compared to the first half of 2019, which could create major challenges for smart factory owners and other organisations running IIoT environments.