Phishing Attacks Rose by 220% At Pandemic Peak Amid Global COVID-Related Fears

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At a time when the last thing we need is more phishing attacks, new data shows that cybercriminals have been stepping up their game, taking full advantage of the pandemic.

In F5 Lab’s 2020 Phishing and Fraud Report, their security analysts characterize the nature of cyberattacks in 2020 as not “a revolution in the attackers’ methods but an evolution.”

The pandemic has empowered cybercriminals with all the ammunition they need to successfully get the attention of a potential victim. As with any phishing attack, it’s necessary to get the emotional attachment of the recipient and create a sense of urgency; what better way than with a seemingly out of control global virus?

According to the report, the overall growth over 12 months is only 15%, but mid-pandemic (if there is such a thing…) F5 Labs found a massive 2x spike in the amount of phishing attacks related to COVID. Also noted were some specifics around the attacks:

55% of phishing sites had some form of brand impersonation in their URLs 72% of all phishing sites secure their site with SSL/TLS Nearly 15K SSL certificates were created with the words “covid” or “corona” in them

It’s evident that scammers believe they shouldn’t let a perfectly good pandemic go to waste.

The interesting part of this report is found in a chart that outlines the steps of a phishing attack:


Note right in the middle under “Execution” that one of two steps must be taken – both, of which, involve your users to act. That’s the secret; if you can educate your users via Security Awareness Training to NOT act, the attack chain stops right there and goes no further.

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