How Phishing Attacks Greatly Increased During The Pandemic
The coming of COVID-19 pandemic has forced people, governments, and businesses to adopt new technologies and systems to maintain business continuity quickly. Consequently, the “attack surface” of businesses has also increased and exposed them to new cybersecurity threats, usually without sufficient mitigations.
Indeed, as the pandemic made headlines across the globe, cyber attackers took advantage of the health crisis to conduct cyber attacks against their increasing targets. In Singapore, phishing attacks significantly increased during the pandemic, prompting many organisations to level up their cybersecurity protection. The demand for outsourced IT support in Singapore has increased as a result. Read on to find out how the pandemic impacted cybersecurity in the country.
What is phishing?
Phishing is a type of cyberattack wherein the attacker poses as a legitimate entity and contacts their target or targets via email, telephone, or text message to lure them into giving sensitive information, such as their personal details, passwords, and banking and credit card details. The information they obtain is then used to access essential accounts that may result in financial loss and identity theft.
Global Phishing Trends During the Pandemic
According to the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), COVID-related malicious cyberattacks, such as phishing attempts, increased globally. For instance, of the 1.2 million newly registered domains (NRDs) observed by Palo Alto Networks in 2020, 86,000 domains were classified as “malicious” or “risky.” The CSA similarly observed a sharp increase in malicious COVID-related URLs starting from February 2020.
Aside from the rise in numbers, authorities also noticed that cyber attackers evolved their tactics and expanded their range of spoofed websites, from pandemic references in general to broader themes. During lockdowns, popular streaming services and online shopping sites, such as Netflix and Amazon, were typically spoofed as cyber attackers tried to capitalise on the growing demand for these services.
Phishing Trends in Singapore
In line with the global phishing trends, the CSA observed that more than 1,500 malicious phishing URLs were targeting Singapore from March to May 2020. These URLs tried to spoof entities whose services were in increased demand during the country’s circuit-breaker period, such as payment services and online shopping sites. This exceeded the number of phishing attempts from the preceding three months.
In a separate report, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) observed more than 151 phishing scams between the 7th of April to the 7th of May 2020. This number was more than five times the number of phishing scams during the first five months of the same year. In June 2020, Singapore was named one of the six countries in the world mainly targeted in a global phishing campaign. As such, the authorities have advised businesses and organisations to scale up their cybersecurity measures continuously.
Overall, the number of phishing attacks in Singapore unsurprisingly doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic when individuals and businesses migrated to the digital world to maintain their day-to-day operations. With everyone’s increased digital presence, cyber attackers saw it as an opportunity to gain financially by carrying out more widespread and complex phishing attacks. To protect your organisation from falling victim to phishing, it is vital to invest in effective IT security services in Singapore.
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