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Coronavirus-related cyberattacks spike in first half of April

Coronavirus-related cyberattacks spike in first half of April

Cyberattacks targeting COVID-19 relief checks shot up in recent weeks, while hackers in general continued using the ongoing pandemic to prey on individuals, research released Monday by software group Check Point found. 

Check Point reported seeing an average of 14,000 coronavirus-related cyberattacks per day over the past week, six times the average daily attacks seen in the second half of March. This number jumped further to 20,000 attacks per day since April 7. 

The vast majority of these attacks were through phishing emails, in which a hacker tries to tempt the individual targeted to click on a link or download an attachment in order to access their network. Around 3 percent of the attacks were through mobile devices. 

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One key aspect of these attacks has involved targeting COVID-19 relief checks currently being sent out to the public by the Treasury Department as part of the $2 trillion stimulus package signed into law by President TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE last month. 

Over 4,000 new domains related to the stimulus checks have been created since January, many of which Check Point classified as “malicious.” The company warned that users who visit these websites risk having personal information stolen or being exposed to payment theft and fraud. 

“Where there’s money, there will also be criminal activity,” Check Point noted in its report. “Hackers and threat actors want to cash in on the rush to get these vital payments and fill their own pockets at the expense of others.”

Hackers have increasingly taken advantage of individuals worldwide moving to online modes of doing business due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and have used the virus to lure individuals into clicking on malicious links or emails. 

A top FBI official said last week that the agency had seen a spike in cyber crime reports, receiving between 3,000 and 4,000 daily, up from a usual average of 1,000 per day.  

Google reported that it had seen 18 million malware and phishing attacks related to the COVID-19 pandemic per day last week, in addition to the 240 million daily spam emails the company regularly sees. 

Major health agencies have also been targeted by hackers, with the World Health Organization and the Department of Health and Human Services reporting attempted cyberattacks.