Beware - these are the global hotspots for coronavirus malware

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Malware related to the global coronavirus pandemic is continuing to be a threat to consumers around the world, new research has found.

Despite many countries now hoping to be over the worst of the pandemic, a report from Google Cloud has shown that unfortunately a large number of criminals and online fraudsters continue to spread coronavirus-themed malware and scams.

The company has detected a significant rise in threats and scams, including coronavirus related malware, phishing, and spam emails, across most of the world.

Coronavirus scams

"As the world continues to adapt to the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, cyber threats are evolving as well. From mimicking stimulus payments, to providing purchase opportunities for items in short supply, bad actors are tailoring attacks to mimic authoritative agencies or exploit fear of the pandemic," noted Neil Kumaran, Product Manager, Gmail Security and Sam Lugani, Lead Security PMM, G Suite & GCP platform.

Google Cloud's report notes that several "regional hotspots" were detected in its investigation, each contributing high volumes of malware.

This includes the UK, which has seen a rise in attackers imitating public sector organisations after its government announced measures to help businesses, with attacks often masquerading as Google itself.

In India, Google Cloud noted an increase in scams targeting Aarogya Setu, an initiative by the Indian Government to connect people with essential health services, as well as an increase in phishing scams targeting insurance companies as more citizens by health insurance.

Lastly in Brazil, there has been a growth in phishing attacks targeting streaming services as more people are turning to video-on-demand applications in lockdown.

Kumaran claimed that Gmail, "continues to block more than 99.9% of spam, phishing, and malware from reaching our users". The company is looking to counter new and evolving threats using AI-based protection including a deep-learning based malware scanner which examines ore than 300 billion documents every week.

"These protections, newly developed and already existing, have allowed us to react quickly and effectively to COVID-19-related threats, and will allow us to adapt quickly to new ones," Kumaran said.

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.