McAfee sees average of 648 new threats per minute


  • McAfee sees COVID-19-themed cyber-attack detections increase by 114% in Q4 2020
  • Powershell threats grow 208% driven by Donoff malware
  • New malware samples grow 10%; averaging 648 new threats per minute
  • New ransomware increases 69%; Mobile malware grows 118%
  • McAfee observes 3.1 million external attacks on cloud user accounts
  • The Eternal Blue exploit was the most prominent vulnerability exploited in Q4

McAfee Corp, the device-to-cloud cybersecurity company, today releases its McAfee Threats Report: April 2021, examining cybercriminal activity related to malware and the evolution of cyber threats in the third and fourth quarters of 2020.

Mobile malware grew 118% in Q4 with The HiddenAds, Clicker, MoqHao, HiddenApp, Dropper and FakeApp strains the most detected mobile malware families while MacOS malware exploded in Q3 420% due to EvilQuest ransomware but then slowed towards the end of the year.

Ransomware grew in volume 69% from Q3 to Q4 with REvil, Thanos, Ryuk, RansomeXX and Maze groups topping the overall list of ransomware families. 

COVID related threat

As organizations the world over adapted to unprecedented numbers of employees working from home, cybercriminals worked feverishly to launch COVID-19-themed attacks on a workforce coping with pandemic restrictions and the potential vulnerabilities of remote device and bandwidth security.

As a result of the pandemic, McAfee saw a 605% increase in attacks Q2 2020. These attacks again increased by 240% in Q3 and 114% in Q4.

In Q3 2020, McAfee Labs observed an average of 588 threats per minute, an increase of 169 threats per minute (40%). By the fourth quarter, this average rose to 648 threats per minute, an increase of 60 threats per minute (10%).

McAfee also observed nearly 3.1 million external attacks on cloud user accounts. This is based on the aggregation and anonymization of cloud usage data from more than 30 million McAfee MVISION cloud users worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2020.

This data set represents companies in all major industries across the globe, including financial services, healthcare, public sector, education, retail, technology, manufacturing, energy, utilities, legal, real estate, transportation, and business services.

Says Raj Samani, McAfee fellow and chief scientist:

“The world—and enterprises—adjusted amidst pandemic restrictions and sustained remote work challenges, while security threats continued to evolve in complexity and increase in volume.” 

“Though a large percentage of employees grew more proficient and productive in working remotely, enterprises endured more opportunistic COVID-19 related campaigns among a new cast of bad-actor schemes. Furthermore, ransomware and malware targeting vulnerabilities in work-related apps and processes were active and remain dangerous threats capable of taking over networks and data, while costing millions in assets and recovery costs.”

Each quarter, McAfee assesses the state of the cyber threat landscape based on in-depth research, investigative analysis, and threat data gathered by the McAfee Global Threat Intelligence cloud from over a billion sensors across multiple threat vectors around the world.


Chris Price
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