Cyber security in the age of COVID-19: a timeline and analysis of cyber-crime and cyber-attacks during the pandemic

Harjinder Singh Lallie, Lynsay A. Shepherd, Jason R.C. Nurse, Arnau Erola, Gregory Epiphaniou, Carsten Maple, Xavier Bellekens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic was a remarkable, unprecedented event which altered the lives of billions of citizens globally resulting in what became commonly referred to as the new-normal in terms of societal norms and the way we live and work. Aside from the extraordinary impact on society and business as a whole, the pandemic generated a set of unique cyber-crime related circumstances which also affected society and business. The increased anxiety caused by the pandemic heightened the likelihood of cyber-attacks succeeding corresponding with an increase in the number and range of cyber-attacks. This paper analyses the COVID-19 pandemic from a cyber-crime perspective and highlights the range of cyber-attacks experienced globally during the pandemic. Cyber-attacks are analysed and considered within the context of key global events to reveal the modus-operandi of cyber-attack campaigns. The analysis shows how following what appeared to be large gaps between the initial outbreak of the pandemic in China and the first COVID-19 related cyber-attack, attacks steadily became much more prevalent to the point that on some days, three or four unique cyber-attacks were being reported. The analysis proceeds to utilise the UK as a case study to demonstrate how cyber-criminals leveraged salient events and governmental announcements to carefully craft and execute cyber-crime campaigns.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102248
JournalComputers and Security
Volume105
Early online date3 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • attack timeline
  • coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • cyber security
  • cyber-attack
  • cyber-crime
  • home working

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