NYU Index sees rapid rise in phishing concerns

Cybersecurity experts report that most digital threats are increasing as the world self-isolates from COVID-19

line graph showing uptick in cyber threats (see caption for details)

The index of cybersecurity threats compiled by the NYU Center for Cybersecurity took a sharp upturn in March. The line graph shows the greatest increase in weapons (phishing/social engineering) at +5.1%/mo, followed by attackers, both criminals (+3.3%/mo) and nation states (+3.1%/mo).

BROOKLYN, New York, Monday, April 13, 2020 – Cybersecurity experts across the world reported an 11% rise in phishing concerns in March, according to an index issued by a research team from the NYU Center for Cybersecurity (CCS) at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering. This rise appears to correlate closely with the dramatic rise in the number of people working from home because of COVID-19.

The Index of Cyber Security, which is updated monthly at the NYU CCS website, collects sentiment estimates via direct polling of security practitioner experts around the world on cybersecurity threat-related issues. The index has operated since 2008, with NYU CCS curating and hosting the research project for two years.

“While this increase represents a meaningful jump in sentiment among our polled experts, I guess it really should come as no big surprise,” said NYU Tandon Distinguished Research Professor Edward Amoroso, who leads the ICS research team. “Phishing attacks always rise when attackers believe their targets are spending more time in front of PCs.”

Most risk indicators rose during the month. Phishing — in which attackers typically target users via fake emails to obtain access to computers and networks — was followed by increases in criminal attacks (up 8%) and attacks against endpoint devices like computers or mobile phones (up 7%).

The sentiment index is based on observational factors such as unpatched servers, unsatisfactory audit findings, and average time to respond to an incident. Amoroso’s academic research group at NYU Tandon’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering collaborates with TAG Cyber LLC, which supports information technology functions. The CSI index and methodology were established by research-practitioners Dan Geer and Mukul Pareek.

Note: Images available at https://nyutandon.photoshelter.com

About the NYU Center for Cyber Security

The NYU Center for Cybersecurity (CCS) is an interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to training the current and future generations of cybersecurity professionals and to shaping the public discourse and policy, legal, and technological landscape on issues of cybersecurity. NYU CCS is a collaboration between NYU School of Law, NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and other NYU schools and departments. For more information, visit cyber.nyu.edu.

About the New York University Tandon School of Engineering

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, the founding date for both the New York University School of Civil Engineering and Architecture and the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly). A January 2014 merger created a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention and entrepreneurship and dedicated to furthering technology in service to society. In addition to its main location in Brooklyn, NYU Tandon collaborates with other schools within NYU, one of the country’s foremost private research universities, and is closely connected to engineering programs at NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. It operates Future Labs focused on start-up businesses in Brooklyn and an award-winning online graduate program. For more information, visit engineering.nyu.edu.