Chennai, 21st May 2020:  While the sudden outbreak and spread of COVID-19 has led to a continuing lockdown in India, the situation has exposed the netizens to cybercrimes in the country. K7 Computing’s Cyber Threat Re port, a comprehensive analysis of cyberattacks during the lockdown, has found that Kerala recorded the highest number of cyberattacks during this period. The report analyses various cyberattacks within India during the pa ndemic and reveals that threat actors targeted the state with COVID-19 themed attacks aimed at exploiting us er trust.

The sudden surge in the frequency of attacks witnessed from February 2020 to mid-April 2020 indicates that scamsters across the world were exploiting the widespread panic around coronavirus at both the individual and corporate level. These attacks aimed to compromise computers and mobile devices to gain access to users’ con fidential data, banking details, and cryptocurrency accounts. The key threats seen during this period ranged fr om phishing attacks to rogue apps disguised as COVID-19 information apps that targeted users’ sensitive data. Phishing attacks were noticed more in Tier – II and Tier – III cities while the metros fared better. Smaller cities saw over 250 attacks being blocked per 10,000 users. Users from Ghaziabad and Lucknow seem to have faced almost 6 and 4 times the number of attacks as Bengaluru users. In Kerala, regions like Kottayam, Kannur, Kollam, and Kochi saw the highest hits with 462, 374, 236, and 147 attacks respectively, while the state as a whole saw around 2,000 attacks during the period – the highest thus far in the country. This was followed by Punjab with 207 attacks and Tamil Nadu at 184 attacks.

A majority of the recorded attacks were phishing attacks with sophisticated campaigns that could easily snare even the most educated users. These attacks were aimed at heightening users’ fears and creating a sense of urg ency to take action. K7 Labs noti  ced phishing attacks where scamsters posed as representatives of the United States Department of the Treasury, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Centres for Disease Control and Pr evention (CDC). Users were encouraged to visit links that would automatically download malware on the host computer such as the Agent Tesla keylogger or Lokibot inform ation-stealing malware, infamous banking Tr ojans such as Trickbot or Zeus Sphinx, and even disastrous ran somware. Other attacks included infected COV ID-19 Android apps like CoronaSafetyMask that scam users with promises of  masks for an upfront payment; the spyware app Project Spy; and seemingly genuine apps that are infected with dangerous malware like banking Trojans such as Ginp, Anubis and Cerberus. 

Commenting on the trend, Mr. J Kesavardhanan¸ founder and CEO of K7 Computing, said “COVID-19 has created an ideal situation for various threat actors to target individuals and enterprises alike. The panic caused by the stringent lockdown measures and rapid spread of this virus has left many people looking for more information on the situation. Threat actors exploit this fear to their advantage and scam users into downloading malicious software and divulging sen sitive information like banking codes. The need to be cyber cautious has never been greater. This is more so in the case of corporates who have adopted a work from home policy hurriedly without adequate cyber hygiene. We have seen an incr ease in attacks on enterprises and SME employees as well.” 

Experts at K7 Labs forecast that the number of COVID themed attacks will continue to increase till normalcy returns. Social engineering attacks targeted at winning users’ trust will gain momentum. Healthcare institutions, well-known government offices, and international organisations will continue to be a prime target throughout the pandemic. 

About K7 Computing

K7 Computing is a global provider of leading IT security solutions for enterprises and consumers. Incorporated in 1991, K7 Computing has its registered office in Chennai and a strong presence in all Indian states. With more than 20,000 channel partners, K7 Computing protects more than 25 million customers worldwide against thre ats to their IT environment.K7 Total Security for Windows has been awarded the Top Product rating on the last three tests conducted by AV-TEST, an internationally-respected cybersecurity product testing organisation bas ed in Germany. It has also been rated as one of the lightest cybersecurity products in the world which does not slowdown the computer by AV-Comparatives, another globally well-respected testing organisation based in Austria. K7’s Endpoint Security is also approved and awarded by AV-Comparatives, and K7 Mobile Security protects millions of satisfied users worldwide.