That Zoom or Microsoft Teams meeting invite might well be malware

representational image of a cloud firewall
(Image credit: Pixabay)

The number of malware campaigns posing as popular video conferencing tools rose by more than 1,000% in a year, a new report from Atlas VPN has found. 

Analyzing data obtained by Russian cybersecurity experts Kaspersky, Atlas VPN says that the number of malicious files disguised as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Webex, HighFive, Lifesize,, Flock, or Gotomeeting rose from 90,000 in March 2020 to 1.05 million in February 2021.

That’s a 12x increase in just 12 months, and February 2021 wasn’t even the worst month, the report states, as even more malware strains (1.15 million incidents) were detected in January.

Beware of phishing sites

Last year was a tough one for remote workers that tried to stay secure - but it pales in comparison to 2021 the report found.

Throughout last year, victims suffered an average of 411,000 attacks a month, with the volume steadily growing throughout the year to reach a high in November and December.

In total, there were 4.11 million attacks in 2020 - but January and February 2021 alone have already seen 2.2 million attacks.

The modus operandi is simple - criminals would first create a fake website of the video conferencing tool provider. Then, they would spread the word of these websites through phishing email campaigns, luring victims to download what they think is a legitimate video conferencing tool, but is actually malware.

Together with the rising number of malware, the number of phishing sites was also seen to have risen sharply. Atlas VPN noted how Google detected a record-high 2.11 million phishing sites in 2020, representing a growth of 43%, compared to the year before.

To stay safe, experts recommend remaining skeptical of all the emails that come with links or attachments. Before clicking, or downloading anything, users are advised to double-check the legitimacy of the source. Usually, the domain from which the email is being sent has an extra letter or a seemingly inconspicuous typo. 

Installing a strong antivirus solution is also recommended as well as, in some cases, a firewall

  • Also check out our rundown of the best free VPN services available now

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.