Cyber threats are rising and falling along with the amount of time spent at home and online due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The new wave of infections and lockdowns meaning that people spend more time online and experience more attacks, according to Allot’s security report for the third quarter of 2020.
The report is based on data on malware and other attacks that Allot’s NetworkSecure security service detected and blocked during the third quarter. The average percentage of security subscribers who experienced these “protection events” was 24% of subscribers across Europe (that figure is reflective of incidents among security subscribers, not the entire subscriber base of the CSPs which offer Allot’s service). That 24% figure is down from 30% of subscribers needing blocks in the second quarter, but it appeared to be on the rise late in the quarter. While Allot said that 23% of its security subscribers needed blocks in July, and in September that increased to 26% as people spent more time online and working from home during new lockdowns.
As countries across Europe loosened lockdown restrictions, Allot’s blocking decreased from 241 million events in July to 238 million in August. But as the second wave of COVID-19 took hold and infections rose, so did blocked attacks, reaching 267 million in September.
Allot said that the last month of the quarter — September — was the most active month for cybercriminals, and it expects the percentage of customers who experience blocks to continue to rise in the fourth quarter of this year.
Phishing represented 54% of blocked attacks during the quarter, down from about 60% in the previous quarter. “Cybercriminals already used phishing heavily, and the COVID-19 crisis only added additional fuel as they took advantage of the crisis to launch additional attacks that preyed on people’s fears,” Allot said. It went on to say that “fake phishing websites are nearly impossible to detect with the human eye.”
The other main blocked attack was adware, accounting for 29% of blocks. Other types of threats accounted for between 1% to 10% of blocks. Allot said that phishing and adware spiked at the start of the pandemic and have been at high levels since, with the prevalence of those two types of threats showing cybercriminals’ preference for them as the “least risky and most
profitable type of threat.”
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