Skip to Main Content
< BackTuesday, January 12, 2021

Cyber Criminals Continue to Benefit from COVID-19

Avira warns of cyber-attacks that lure users with "COVID-19" and "Corona" in annual threat report.

January 12, 2021 (SAN JOSE, Calif.) – According to Avira's 2020 Report on Cybersecurity, cyber criminals benefited greatly from COVID-19. With a world eager for information, malware authors developed a wide variety of strategies to exploit users’ fears and need for answers around the virus, from malware which enables cyber attackers to read credit card data to vaccine based scams targeting the elderly in order to gain access to personal payment data. Overall, cyber-attacks increased by 15% worldwide compared to 2019. Further the rate of scams overall rose and fell at the same rate and time as the virus appeared across the world.  

"For many years, authors of malware have been using psychological tricks to lure unsuspecting users," said Alexander Vukcevic, Director of Avira Protection Labs. "Currently, we are in a situation where many people are looking for answers and are worried because of COVID-19. The authors of malware are specifically exploiting this uncertainty.”  

Since the beginning of the pandemic, special variants of well-known malware families have emerged to trap unsuspecting users with the catchphrase "Corona" or "COVID-19". 

Banking Trojan "Cerberus" lures with "Corona” 

One example of this is a variant of the Android banking Trojan "Cerberus", which is often distributed under the name "Corona-Apps.apk" via phishing campaigns. The keyword "Corona" is intended to entice Android users to install the Trojan on their smartphone. 

According to the Avira report, the number of Android banking Trojans detected in 2020 increased by 35 percentage points compared to the previous year, which is due in part to increased mobile banking activities this year.  

Chart, bar chartDescription automatically generated

 "Banking Trojans have always played an important role in the Android malware scene and this year they had an even bigger presence. In addition to the strategy of using COVID-19 as a cover, they also use the classic approach: they disguise themselves as a widely used app and ask for unusual permissions in order to obtain credit card data, for example," Vukcevic said. 

COVID-19 as a driver for cyber attacks  

Overall, Avira Protection Labs recorded an increase in malware attacks of around 15% compared to 2019 with a significant increase particularly in the first and last months of 2020. 

Interestingly, the number of all cyber-attacks blocked by Avira increased this year at the same rate as the pandemic spread. During the first wave of the pandemic in April, the number of malware attacks also reached its first peak. As the scale of the pandemic diminished in the summer, so did the number of attacks. Since the beginning of the second wave in October, the number of malware attacks has been rising rapidly again. There would appear to be a direct correlation between the number of attacks and the number of people working from home, this may be down to cybercriminals knowing that people are often more vulnerable to certain types of attacks when away from a secure office environment. 

Chart, line chartDescription automatically generated 

 Increasing threat in 2021: Stalkerware 

Another malware that actively camouflages itself and, according to Avira, will become increasingly important in the coming year is stalkerware. Apps that are detected as stalkerware are a type of spyware that can endanger the privacy of users and the security of the system. These spy apps can be installed without the knowledge or consent of the device owner, to secretly monitor them and spy on personal information such as pictures, videos, messages and location data. To disguise their activities, they use a stealth mode that allows the app to run invisibly in the background. 

Due to the increasing activity of stalkerware apps in the Android environment, Avira is an active member in the Coalition Against Stalkerware to support their fight against this threat. 

More information and an analysis of a typical stalkerware app is available in this blog article. 

 

The Avira Annual Threat Report 2020 is available here: https://www.avira.com/en/state-of-cybersecurity-2020  

More information and tips for safe online banking and shopping are available at the following link: https://www.avira.com/en/avira-annual-report-2020  

 

### 

Press contact: James Griffiths, james.griffiths@avira.com   


Important: Your current Windows version is outdated and no longer supported.
For your security, we recommend switching to Windows 10 before downloading Avira software.
Update your Windows version here.
Wichtig: Ihre Windows-Version ist veraltet und wird nicht mehr unterstützt.
Zu Ihrer Sicherheit empfehlen wir Ihnen den Wechsel zu Windows 10 vor dem Download unserer Software.
Hier können Sie Ihr Windows aktualisieren.
Important: Votre version actuelle de Windows est obsolète et n’est plus prise en charge.
Pour votre sécurité, nous vous conseillons de passer à Windows 10 avant de télécharger le logiciel Avira.
Mettez à jour votre version de Windows ici.
Importante: Tu versión actual de Windows está desactualizada y ya no es compatible.
Por tu seguridad, te recomendamos que instales Windows 10 antes de descargar la solución de Avira.
Actualiza aquí tu versión de Windows.
Importante: La tua attuale versione di Windows è obsoleta e non è più supportata.
Per la tua sicurezza, ti consigliamo di passare a Windows 10 prima di scaricare i software Avira.
Aggiorna la tua versione di Windows qui.
Importante: Sua versão atual do Windows está desatualizada e não tem mais suporte.
Para sua segurança, recomendamos que troque para o Windows 10 antes de baixar o software da Avira.
Atualize sua versão do Windows aqui.
Важно: ваша версия Windows устарела и больше не поддерживается.
Из соображений безопасности перед загрузкой ПО Avira мы рекомендуем перейти на Windows 10.
Обновить Windows вы можете здесь.
Belangrijk: Uw huidige versie van Windows is verouderd en wordt niet meer ondersteund.
Voor uw veiligheid adviseren wij u om over te stappen op Windows 10 voordat u de Avira-software downloadt.
Update uw Windows-versie hier.
Önemli: Kullanmakta olduğunuz Windows sürümü eski ve artık desteklenmiyor.
Güvenliğiniz için Avira yazılımını indirmeden önce Windows 10 sürümüne yükseltmenizi öneririz.
Windows sürümünü buradan güncelleyin.
重要 : 現在お使いの Windows バージョンは古いため、サポートされなくなりました。
安全のため、Avira ソフトウェアをダウンロードする前に Windows 10 に切り替えることをお勧めします。
こちらより Windows バージョンをアップデートしてください
重要信息 : 您当前的 Windows 版本已过时,并且不再受支持。
为了安全起见,我们建议您在下载 Avira 软件之前切换到 Windows 10。
在此升级您的 Windows 版本
重要資訊 : 您當前的 Windows 版本已過時,並且不再受支援。
為了安全起見,我們建議您在下載 Avira 軟體之前切換到 Windows 10。
在此升級您的 Windows 版本