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Kaspersky researchers report a global shift in financial malware threats in 2020

According to a new Kaspersky report, the financial threat landscape experienced a global shift during the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the report entitled, Financial Cyberthreats in 2020, researchers discovered that while the overall volume of threats via PCs or mobiles decreased during this period, financial phishing targets were reprioritized. In addition, the geography of attacks became more diversified, especially from a mobile financial malware perspective.

Last year proved to be unique when it comes to cyber attacker's focus on financial phishing. In 2019, there was an increase in bank-related phishing from less than 22% to almost 30%. Yet in 2020, banking phishing reached only 11% of the total. In addition, e-commerce shops reached 8% in 2019, however in 2020, this number reached over 18%, likely due to the influx of people turning to online shopping and digital forms of entertainment.

The geographies targeted by cyber attackers also shifted during the last year. In 2019, the 10 countries with the highest percentage of users that encountered Android banking malware included: Russia (.72%), South Africa (.66%), Australia (.59%), Spain (.29%), Tajikistan (.21%), Turkey (.20%), U.S. (.18%), Italy (.17%), Ukraine (.17%) and Armenia (.16%).

In 2020, these targets changed entirely with Kaspersky experts reporting that many of the targeted countries switched places. Russia, a longtime leader in this category, moved down to seventh place in 2020. At the same time, Japan and Taiwan, which were absent from the list of affected countries in 2019, rose rapidly to occupy the top two spots in 2020: Japan (2.83%), Taiwan (.87%), Spain (.77%), Italy (.71%), Turkey (.60%), Korea (34%), Russia (.25%), Tajikistan (.21%) Poland (.17%) and Australia (.15%).

"In 2020, we observed a number of new countries becoming a hotbed for cyber-infections," said Victor Chebyshev, security expert at Kaspersky. "The clearest example of this is Japan, which faced a wave of attacks from the Wroba.g banking Trojan. The bright side is that most of these attacks can be prevented. Therefore, we urge users to take extra care when conducting mobile financial transactions."

In order to protect themselves from financial malware, Kaspersky experts advise users to take the following measures:

  • Only install applications from reliable sources such as official stores
  • Check what permissions the application requests. If they do not match the program's functions, then they should be questioned
  • Install a trusted security solution such as Kaspersky Security Cloud to protect you against a wide range of financial cyber threats
  • Install all latest updates and patches for existing software on a continuous basis

To learn more about financial malware and additional findings from the report, please visit Securelist.

Published Thursday, April 01, 2021 8:24 AM by David Marshall
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