Based on the volume of malware registered since last year, it is clear cybercriminals are continuously seeking to capitalize on panic and anxiety around significant global occurrences like the coronavirus pandemic.
Data acquired and calculated by Finbold projects that about 604,059 new malicious programs (malware) and potentially unwanted applications (PUA) are registered daily in 2021 (globally). The estimates are based on the already registered 61.01 million malware between January 1, 2021, and April 11, 2021. If the rate of new malware is sustained across the year, 2021 will register a whopping 220 million new malware to represent a growth of 56.86% from 137.7 million recorded last year.
Overall, 2021 is recording a sharp surge in malware, with March accounting for the highest figure at 19.2 million. The severity of malware registered this year is exhibited when compared to last year’s cases. In only three and half months, this year’s malware accounts for 44.3% of the 137.7 million new malware for 2020. Data on newly registered malware is provided by the AV-Test Institute.
New malware surges amid coronavirus pandemic
Although malware and potentially unwanted applications have always been a threat with technological advancement, cybercriminals capitalized on the coronavirus pandemic to target more people. Coincidentally, the pandemic is characterized by most people spending more time online for work and entertainment.
Worth noting is that with most people working remotely, there is a high possibility of malware attacks. While at home, there is a combination of weaker security controls and a higher likelihood of users falling prey to Covid-19 themed malware in the form of emails.
Attackers potentially take advantage of the initial anxiety around the pandemic to target individuals with email on Covid-19 vaccines and cure; hence, malicious parties are taking advantage of creating malware. Interestingly, the rate of malware growth has surged steadily from last year November when most parts of the world entered the second wave of the health crisis.
The pandemic caused massive disruptions in business operations with many organizations focusing on how to remain afloat amid the economic meltdown. In this case, most organizations and individuals are distracted. Therefore there is a high possibility of lettering the guard down. Such an environment opens the door for malware developers to explore.
Furthermore, social media’s growth and the emergence of new platforms offer developers of malware a unique opportunity to reach more targets.
Victims of malware are targeted through ads promoted on platforms like YouTube and TikTok. The growing popularity of these social networks makes them an attractive advertising platform for malware. Additionally, some of the networks attract young people who might not be conversant with detecting potential cybersecurity threats concealed as legit offerings.
Malware becoming more sophisticated
Although the data highlights the high volume of new malware registered, it is essential to point out that cybercriminals also leverage sophistication in distributing malware. As organizations and individuals put in place mechanisms to prevent malware, cybercriminals explore advanced evasive tactics that make detection much more difficult.
Overall, the high volume of registered malware from last year presents a tremendous challenge for threats detection and response to organizational cyber threat readiness. As mentioned, threat tactics are evolving, with attackers gaining confidence and targeting individuals and organizations of any size and different industries. Curbing the threat calls for immediate patching of any existing vulnerabilities.