Online threats have risen by as much as six-times their usual levels over the past four weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic provides new ballast for cyber-attacks, according to Cloudflare.
The web security and content delivery vendor analyzed UK traffic figures for the past four weeks compared to the previous month and noted a sharp uptick in malicious activity.
It revealed that hacking and phishing attempts were up 37% month-on-month, while on some days, the firm was blocking between four- and six-times the number of attacks it would usually see.
The firm said the uptick was the result of “recreational” hackers with more time on their hands. However, professional cyber-criminals are also using the global incident to further their own agendas.
Phishing attempts have soared by over 600% since the end of February, including traditional impersonation scams but also business email compromise (BEC) and extortion attacks, according to Barracuda Networks.
In Hong Kong, likely state-sponsored attackers are even using the virus as a lure to trick users into clicking on news links booby-trapped with iOS spyware.
Domain registrars are ramping up efforts to halt automatic registration of any website names that are linked to COVID-19, for fear they may be phishing sites or those selling counterfeit goods like surgical masks and pharmaceuticals.
Interpol announced last week that it had already managed to seize $14m worth of such fake goods.
Even the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has been stepping in to remove malicious and phishing sites.
Aside from the rise in threat levels, Cloudflare also noted an overall uptick in internet use of 17%, as the majority of the country is urged to stay indoors and work from home.
Online visits to tutoring sites grew most during the past four weeks, up 400%, while website numbers in categories such as politics (320%), TV (210%) and gardening (200%) also spiked.