Cynet has announced that an analysis of the company’s aggregate customer data in Italy is connecting the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) to a growing volume of cyberattacks in the region. The findings reveal that companies with higher instances of the virus and that have quarantined or instructed employees to work from home, are now experiencing a sharp rise in both phishing attacks that target remote user credentials and include weaponised email attacks. This shows the propensity for hackers to shift their focus to remote work environments in order to capitalise on the virus while thwarting corporate security measures. While this data reflects the current cyberthreat landscape in Italy, it also illustrates the future cyber implications for any territory in which the Coronavirus would spread to the level that justifies a similar quarantine policy.
This analysis, conducted by Cynet, focuses on multiple organisations in Italy and shows a distinct spike in remote worker phishing attacks, compared to countries with fewer attacks. This indicates that remote workers have become a weak link that threat actors are targeting and that user credentials in offsite computing (home) environments are increasingly at risk – especially in regions with escalating cases of COVID-19. This spike is coupled by a similar increase in anomalous remote login attempts flagged by Cynet as malicious. Crossing the two trends indicates a clear inclination by criminal hackers to leverage the situation and maliciously log in to organisational resources.
Another trend that Cynet has identified is the sharp rise in weaponised email attacks. As personal computers lack enterprise-grade email security and advanced endpoint protection, they are significantly less secure and more vulnerable to malware, exploits, macros and other malicious executables. According to Cynet’s findings, 21% of personal computer email systems featured simplistic attacks with a link to download a malicious executable embedded in the email body. The rest of attacks were more advanced and included malicious macros (32%) and exploits or redirection to malicious websites (35%) – a challenge that surpasses the capabilities of most home devices antivirus and email protection solutions.
In terms of how these attacks were stopped from achieving success, more than 40% were limited by behavioural analysis, nearly 30% were stopped by Machine Learning static analysis, nearly 20% were halted using memory monitoring and a little over 10% were identified and blocked using their signature.
“The fact that only 10% of the malware attacks were identified by their signature indicates that the attackers behind these campaigns are using advanced attacking tools to take advantage of the employees working in non-secure home computing environments,” said Eyal Gruner, CEO and Co-Founder of Cynet. “Our recommendation is for those employees to request enhanced offsite security and support to protect malicious access to sensitive IT systems and data.”