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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Citations (Scopus)
582 Downloads (Pure)


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
Number of pages20
JournalComputers and Security
Early online date3 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • Cybersecurity
  • Cybercrime
  • Coronavirus
  • Covid-19
  • Attack Timeline
  • Home Working


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