Original Research

Cyberattacks and threats during COVID-19: A systematic literature review

Joel Chigada, Rujeko Madzinga
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 23, No 1 | a1277 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v23i1.1277 | © 2021 Joel Chigada, Rujeko Madzinga | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 June 2020 | Published: 19 February 2021

About the author(s)

Joel Chigada, Department of Information Systems, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Rujeko Madzinga, Department of Information Systems, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa

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Background: The novel Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, a deadly contagious disease has left the global village in disarray, driving people and firms, especially healthcare service providers to rely heavily on information communication technologies (ICTs) for administering telemedicine through digital tools. This study contributes to knowledge and information sharing and debates on cybersecurity.

Objective: The objective was to analyse the impact of cybercrimes on the global economy at a time when the whole world is focused on fighting and minimising the spread of COVID-19. The study also analysed common cybersecurity threats, attacks and information systems security vulnerabilities during the period of the pandemic.

Method: The study adopted a systematic literature review from December 2019 to June 2020. There are global research studies on cybersecurity issues brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, and therefore, literature survey was not limited to any geographic area. A mixed method research was adopted in this study.

Results: The study revealed that there is an exponential growth of cyberattacks and threats because the global economy has been paying much attention to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, large corporations, healthcare industry and government agencies have been targets for cyberattacks and threats.

Conclusion: It has been demonstrated that cyberattacks and threats during the COVID-19 pandemic are rising exponentially, creating another wave of challenges for the global economy, which is already reeling under the novel coronavirus. Thus, exerting excessive pressure on financial and human resources that have to contend with the novel coronavirus, with the expectation that resources have to be mobilised to deal with cybercrimes. The study recommends that firms and individuals should devise cybersecurity interventions to protect their data and information systems infrastructure.


cyberattacks; cyberthreats; COVID-19; information systems vulnerabilities; cybersecurity.


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