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COVID-19 Pandemic Offers Opportunity for Cybercriminals, McAfee Says

By Ken Briodagh
July 24, 2020

McAfee recently released its McAfee COVID-19 Threat Report: July 2020 examining cybercriminal activity related to COVID-19 and the evolution of cyber threats in Q1 2020.

According to the report, McAfee Labs saw an average of 375 new threats per minute and a surge of cybercriminals exploiting the pandemic through COVID-19 themed malicious apps, phishing campaigns, malware, and more. New PowerShell malware increased 688 percent over the course of the quarter while total malware grew 1,902 percent over the past four quarters.

“Thus far, the dominant themes of the 2020 threat landscape have been cybercriminal’s quick adaptation to exploit the pandemic and the considerable impact cyberattacks have had,” said Raj Samani, McAfee fellow and chief scientist. “What began as a trickle of phishing campaigns and the occasional malicious app quickly turned into a deluge of malicious URLs and capable threat actors leveraging the world’s thirst for more information on COVID-19 as an entry mechanism into systems across the globe.”

McAfee researchers found it is typical of COVID-19 campaigns to use pandemic-related subjects including testing, treatments, cures, and remote work topics to lure targets into clicking on a malicious link, download a file, or view a PDF. To track these campaigns, McAfee Advanced Programs Group (APG) has published a COVID-19 Threat Dashboard, which includes top threats leveraging the pandemic, most targeted verticals and countries, and most utilized threat types and volume over time. The dashboard is updated daily at 4pmET; more information can be found here: McAfee APG COVID-19 Threat Dashboard.

“Cybersecurity cannot be solved by cookie cutter approaches, each organization is unique and has specific intelligence requirements and objectives,” said Patrick Flynn, head of McAfee APG. “The McAfee COVID-19 Threat Dashboard utilizes data to create true analyzed intelligence, which allows users to understand the total threat environment, informing them of potential threats before they are weaponized."

Check out the full McAfee report for all the results.


Ken Briodagh is a storyteller, writer and editor with about two decades of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

Editorial Director

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