2020 saw a pronounced rise in malware in 2020, with 360,000 new malicious files detected by Kaspersky every day this year — representing an increase of 5.2% year-on-year.
Trojans and backdoors (a type of trojan that gives attackers remote control over an infected device) drove this surge, increasing by 40.5% and 23% compared to last year, respectively.
Worms (malicious programmes that self-replicate within systems) also saw an increase in incidents, written on the VisualBasicScript language and usually belonging to the Dinihou malware family.
On the decline is adware (programs that bombard you with advertisements), which experienced a 35% decrease when compared to 2019.
“Over the past year, our detection systems discovered far more new malicious objects than they did in 2019,” says Kaspersky security expert Denis Staforkin.
“Due to the pandemic, users from around the world were forced to spend more time on their devices and online. It's hard to know whether or not attackers were more active or our solutions detected more malicious files simply because of greater activity. It could be a combination of both.
At 89.8%, the vast majority of malicious files detected occurred via Windows PE files — a file format specific to Windows operating systems.
Meanwhile, the number of new malware related to Android operating systems declined by 13.7%. Given that many people were working and studying from home, most likely on computers and laptops, attackers appear to have shifted their focus to these devices, according to Kaspersky.
There was also a 27% increase in the number of different scripts — sent via malicious email campaigns or encountered on infected websites, which could, once again, reflect the fact that people spent more time on the internet and attackers attempted to capitalise on that fact.
“We have registered a noticeable increase in the number of new malicious files this year, and this will most likely continue going into 2021 as employees continue to work from home and countries implement different restrictions,” continues Staforkin.
“However, if users take basic security precautions, they can significantly lower their risk of encountering them.
Kaspersky's study follows a separate report from the company which sheds light on organisations' social media accounts and how they play a ‘key part' in consumers' purchasing decisions.
The study of 1240 people in APAC found that 51% of respondents believe an organisation's online reputation is important, and 48% would avoid companies that have been involved in a scandal, or have received negative press coverage.
If a crisis unfolded, 38% would stop using an organisation's products if they were caught up in a crisis that spilled online.
These key findings show that brand reputation is important, and even brand endorsers can make or break consumers' views of a brand.