Cyber Extortions on the Rise in COVID-19 Chaos

Picture of teenage girl intimidated by cyber stalker

As the chaos surrounding COVID-19 unfolds and many private companies are stuck at home, many hackers have been taking advantage of it. There are now many cases of cyber ransom that have come about since the lockdowns began.

In the first quarter of 2020, the average payment for ransoms were just over $111,000, though most of these attacks are on smaller businesses with the minority being big named companies that skewed the average higher. These malicious actors are using phishing and other social engineering schemes to get people to click on the infected email and lock their systems down. Public entities such as utilities represented 12% of the hacks, with half of those being school systems. They have been especially hit hard as they scrambled to go online, when they’re normally attacked during the summer before the school year starts. “Typically, school systems are targeted over the summer. The timing is designed to force the company to pay before school begins,” said Coveware. “The rotation into targeting schools in March was likely precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic which forced most school systems to rapidly offer remote learning. The hasty switch caused many schools to leave themselves vulnerable to attack, and ransomware actors took full advantage during Q1.”[1]

Just because everyone’s home, does not mean your guard should be lowered. Many home systems aren’t as protected as businesses main networks and malicious actors are taking advantage. Do not open unknown emails and don’t hand out your information at will.


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