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8.8 million COVID-19 threats in first half of 2020

8.8 million COVID-19 threats in first half of 2020 

Trend Micro, a leader in cloud security, announced in its annual mid-year report that COVID-19 related threats were the single biggest kind of threat in the first half of 2020. In a span of six months, Trend Micro was able to eliminate 8.8 million of these, nearly 92 per cent were email-based.

From January to June were the peak months for cybercriminals to attack due to the global interest in the pandemic. There were higher risks for most businesses, as adjustments in security gaps were being established due to most people working remotely.

“The pandemic has dominated all of our lives during the first half of 2020, but it’s not slowing down the cybercriminals,” said Myla Pilao, director of technical marketing for Trend Micro. “IT leaders must continue to adapt their cybersecurity 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.”

Business Email Compromise (BEC) detections went up by 19 per cent from the second half of the previous year, because of scammers trying to take advantage of remote workers being more exposed to social engineering.

Looking at all the threats in the first half of 2020, ransomware was the usual suspect. Despite the decrease in the number of detected ransomware threats, Trend Micro saw a 45 per cent increase in new ransomware families compared to the same time in 2019.

A lot of international businesses and organizations were also wary of the increased numbers in newly disclosed vulnerabilities. Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) released a total of 786 advisories, representing a 74 per cent spike 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 this year— including the biggest number of patches ever issued in a single month, that was 129 in June.

Trend Micro also saw an increase of 16 per cent in vulnerabilities disclosed in industrial control systems (ICS), compared to the first half of last year, which could start big challenges for smart factory owners and other organizations running IoT environments.

To ensure the protection of dispersed business networks, Gartner says that organizations should “refine security monitoring capabilities to reflect an operating environment where network traffic patterns, data and system access vectors have changed due to increased remote and mobile operations.”

To learn more about the threat landscape in the first half of 2020 and how businesses can stay secure moving forward, click on the full report here.

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