TikTok was the most often forged app linked to Covid-19 in 2021 H1

Ruth C. | September 23, 2021

With 732 million users worldwide, TikTok, a trending video-sharing platform, is one of today's most popular social media networks. During the lockdown, the app's short and amusing videos drew a lot of attention, but it was not long before cybercriminals took advantage of TikTok's fame for their own gain.

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, TikTok was the most impersonated Android app in Covid-19 related app scams in the first half of 2021. There were a total of 88 TikTok copy-cat apps detected spreading FakeApp malware.

Such malicious apps often use fake login pages that look like interfaces of the official apps to harvest user's credentials and other personal data. Fake apps are typically distributed through third-party app stores, but on occasion, they make it to the official Google Play store as well.

The data is based on Trend Micro Attacks from All Angles: 2021 Midyear Cybersecurity Report{b}. The study looks at different types of cyberthreats, including ransomware, malware, and others, prevalent in the period.

Malicious applications impersonating organizations that give out free laptops to students were also highly prevalent. There were 37 bogus laptop registration applications for Android detected in H1 2021.

Since Covid-19 forced most students to attend classes remotely, cybercriminals quickly turned this situation into a scam opportunity. Therefore, apps offering free laptops as part of the government's support to students have started popping up. Such apps ask the students to register by providing their personal information and submitting it on the app, which then goes straight into the hands of cybercriminals.

The third spot on the list is occupied by apps impersonating vaccine registration channels. Overall, 14 such malicious applications were found in the first half of this year.

Other common malicious Android apps associated with the pandemic scams in the first half of 2021 include apps impersonating government-run Covid-19 vaccination registration platform in India CoWIN (11), as well as apps imitating India's largest telecom service provider Airtel (7).

The US most affected by Covid-19-related threats

Apart from fake apps, cybercriminals have launched multiple other cyberattacks leveraging the global pandemic, including phishing campaigns, malicious URLs, as well as malware. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered an increase in many areas of cybersecurity. For one, VPN searches grew significantly during this difficult time. However, more than 16 million cyber threats also emerged.

While cyberattacks were widespread across the world, some countries suffered more than others. In total, 35.9% of such threats affected the United States in the first half of 2021.

Next up is Europe's superpower Germany. It experienced 18.9% of all Covid-related cyberthreats.

South America also made it to the most affected region list by covid cyberthreats. Namely, its country of Colombia suffered 10.5% of pandemic-related online attacks.

The fourth and the fifth spots on the most affected country list are occupied by two other European countries — Italy and Spain. Each of the countries were affected by 3% and 2.5% Covid-19 cyberthreats, respectively. 

Despite Covid cyberthreats still being active, the number of attacks leveraging the pandemic actually decreased in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period a year before. Such attacks dropped by half 50% from 8,840,336 attacks in H1 2020 to 4,409,392 attacks in H1 2021.

Check out our other articles on Covid-19-related cyberthreats: 

More than 16 million Covid-related cyber threats were detected in 2020

Over 35,500 coronavirus-related websites reported as scam

Ruth C.

Ruth C.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. Interested in cybercrime, online security, and privacy-related topics.


Fake appsTikTokmalwareCovid-19

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