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4 Ways Cyberattacks Evolved in 2020

5 min read

Our habits saw many changes thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. In turn, cybercriminals changed their behavior as well. Here are a few ways cyberattacks evolved in 2020:

1. Cyberattacks Grew with Alarming Frequency

It’s no secret that the number of cyberattacks increases every year, resulting in grief and financial loss. However, 2020 saw a significant spike in cyberattacks as criminals grew hungrier with more targets online. In fact, one cybersecurity company noticed more cyberattacks in six months of 2020 than all of 2019.

2. Cybercriminals Used Psychology

Everything is fair game as far as cybercriminals are concerned, including fears about COVID-19. Cybercriminals used concerns about the dangerous virus to design new scams. One of the first COVID-19 phishing attacks of the year was a fraudulent email that claimed to be from the World Health Organization and carried a malicious attachment loaded with spyware. This spyware recorded its victims’ keystrokes to help hackers commit different types of financial crimes.

Unfortunately, this phishing attack was just one of many. More sophisticated scams were paired with fake websites from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that asked users for sensitive information in the name of safety. This information was everything cybercriminals needed to commit identity theft.

Other scams appeared to be messages from prominent retailers, promising people who clicked on malicious links with protective gear.

3. Smartphone Users Were Also Struck by COVID-19 Scams

COVID-19 scams didn’t just target computer users, but smartphone users too. For example, cybercriminals hit Android users with a Trojan horse attack in the shape of a coronavirus tracking app that was infected with spyware.

Unsuspecting users gave malicious app access to their photos, videos, location, and other files. Cybersecurity experts believe that hackers use such information for various cybercriminals, from hacking and stalking to blackmail. In addition, stolen media is often up for sale on the dark web.

To stay safe from such threats, download apps only from legitimate sources, give permissions sparingly, uninstall suspicious apps immediately, and get advanced protection for your Android from a reputable cybersecurity company. Here are a few characteristics of good cybersecurity software for your smart device:

  • It should be light to avoid draining your phone or tablet’s resources
  • It should aggressively detect adware and other potentially unwanted programs
  • It should offer real-time protection against emerging malware like ransomware, which locks your device until you pay a cybercriminal through a digital currency
  • It should monitor URLs to help you avoid fraudulent websites
  • It should audit app settings to secure your privacy

4. Online Skimming Activity Increased

With more physical stores shifting to the Internet during the pandemic, cybercriminals exploited vulnerabilities in websites to steal credit information and other sensitive data with JavaScript code. Such data breaches can affect even the most prominent websites.

To protect yourself from such scams, always use your credit card to shop instead of your debit card, monitor your financial activity, and contact your credit card issuer immediately if you notice anything suspicious.

These are four ways cyberattacks evolved in 2020. Cybercrimes will only grow more sophisticated as we spend more time online. Use the best cybersecurity software and keep your guard up to stay safe.

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