Canadian Manufacturing

1 in 4 Americans received a COVID-19 related phishing email

Global survey finds overall email volume has increased 34% since last year, without a corresponding increase in cyber security protection

September 22, 2020  by CM Staff

Photo: iStock

WATERLOO, Ont. — OpenText released a new report, COVID-19 Clicks: How Phishing Capitalized on a Global Crisis that sheds light on what people know about phishing attacks, what makes them click on a potentially malicious link and overall cybersecurity and cyber resilience habits in the time of COVID-19.

“With mass work from home, an influx of emails and a general ‘always connected’ attitude, there are more opportunities for cybercriminals than ever before,” said OpenText CEO & CTO Mark J. Barrenechea, in a prepared statement. “We saw phishing URLs impersonating streaming services skyrocket during quarantine, as cybercriminals target people where they are most often. Businesses and consumers must prioritize cyber resilience and recognize that it is everyone’s responsibility to protect their data.”

The report suggests companies and consumers alike are falsely confident when it comes to cybersecurity. Nearly all respondents worldwide (95%) recognize that phishing remains a problem for companies and consumers, yet more than three quarters (76%) admit to opening emails from unknown senders, with over half (59%) blaming it on the fact that phishing emails look more realistic than ever before. The survey also revealed an opportunity for more security awareness education. Just 59% believe they know what to do to keep their data safe, with nearly one third (29%) admitting they’ve clicked on a phishing scam in the last year and one in five (19%) confirming receipt of a phishing scam related to COVID-19.

In the report, Dr. Prashanth Rajivan, assistant professor at the University of Washington, offered his perspective on how the COVID-19 pandemic and general increase in working from home could affect individuals’ and businesses’ cybersecurity status. “Like with distracted driving, working while doing other household chores or even watching TV seems easy enough when doing mundane tasks, such as email processing. But this type of distraction can also make people vulnerable. People might be less likely to properly notice and weigh the risks of a potential phishing message.”

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