Cyber insecurity in the wake of COVID-19: a reappraisal of impacts and global experience within the context of routine activity theory




COVID-19, cyber attacker, cybercriminal, cyber insecurity, cyberspace, impacts and global experience, routine activity theory (RAT)


Shortly after the enthronement of COVID-19 on the global continent, cyberspace became a dominant arena for social, economic, religious, educational, recreational and political activities across the world. This paper draws insights from the existing literature to illustrate how COVID-19 has provided situational opportunities for cyber criminals to strike and exploit people of their valuable resources through creating fraudulent websites as well as spreading of malware and ransomware to vulnerable users. To this end, routine activity theory becomes very dominant and crucial in understanding the underlying basis for the increased cybercrimes that currently characterize the cyber space. The study demonstrates that the twin phenomenon of coronavirus and cyber insecurity has not only instilled fears into the hearts of cyber users but has also negatively impacted the global economy in various ways that cannot be quantified by any study. Since all measures put in place to contain the threats of the horrible virus, have, hitherto, remained counterproductive, the paper recommends essential cyber hygiene practices (such as, antivirus protection, malware and phishing awareness, weak spots identification, intelligent techniques, risk management approach, zero trust design, home network security and general cybersecurity awareness) as a coping strategy to salvage both the public health and security sectors from the twin occurrence of Covid-19 pandemic and cyber insecurity, which has respectively inflicted and claimed millions of lives, and jeopardized significant portions of the global economy. Providing a continued cyber-safe remote-working environment for employees will be of ultimate measure

Author Biography

Sogo Angel Olofinbiyi, University of Venda


Department of Criminal Justice

School of Law


  1. Barau, A. S. (2016). Cyber insecurity as a manifestation of new form of global urban vulnerability. Imam Journal of Applied Sciences, 1 (1), 27–32.
  2. Holt, T. J.; Huebner, B. M., Bynum, T. S. (2016). Cybercrime. The Handbook of Measurement Issues in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Wiley, 29–48. doi:
  3. Rossi, F. D., Hohemberger, R., Konzen, M. P., Temp, D. C. (2020). E-Banking Security: Threats, Challenges, Solutions, and Trends. Encyclopedia of Criminal Activities and the Deep Web. IGI Global, 893–904. doi:
  4. Felson, M., Clarke, R.V. (1998). Opportunity Makes the Thief: Practical theory for crime prevention. London, 44.
  5. Boivin, R., de Melo, S. N. (2019). The Concentration of Crime at Place in Montreal and Toronto. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 61 (2), 46–65. doi:
  6. Ten Boom, A., Pemberton, A., Groenhuijsen, M. S. (2019). The need for protection and punishment in victims of violent and nonviolent crime in the Netherlands: The effect of relational distance. Victims & Offenders, 14 (2), 222–238. doi:
  7. WHO-Convened Global Study of Origins of SARS-CoV-2 (2021). China Part. Geneva: World Health Organization. Available at:
  8. Hallal, P. C., Victora, C. G. (2021). Overcoming Brazil’s monumental COVID-19 failure: an urgent call to action. Nature Medicine, 27 (6), 933–933. doi:
  9. Introduction to COVID-19: methods for detection, prevention, response and control (2020). WHO. Available at:
  10. Covid-19 data in motion (2021). Johns Hopkins University and Medicine. Available at:
  11. Salyer, K. (2020). COVID-19: What to know about the coronavirus pandemic. World Economy Forum. Available at:
  12. Coronavirus in Africa Tracker: How many covid-19 cases & where (2020). African Argument. Available at:
  13. Modes of transmission of virus causing COVID-19: Implications for IPC precaution recommendations (2020). World Health Organization. Available at:
  14. Olofinbiyi, S. A., Singh, S. B. (2020). The role and place of COVID-19: An opportunistic avenue for exponential world’s upsurge in cybercrime. International Journal of Criminology & Sociology, 9 (11), 221–230.
  15. Muttoo, S. K., Badhani, S. (2021). An Analysis of Malware Detection and Control through Covid-19 Pandemic. 2021 8th International Conference on Computing for Sustainable Global Development (INDIACom). IEEE, 637–641
  16. Singh, S, Medatwal, C. A. (2021). Study on impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on cyberspace. International Journal of Management, 12 (3).
  17. Gundur, R. V., Levi, M., Topalli, V., Ouellet, M., Stolyarova, M., Chang, L. Y.-C., Mejía, D. D. (2021). Evaluating Criminal Transactional Methods in Cyberspace as Understood in an International Context. CrimRxiv. doi:
  18. Abukari, A. M, Bankas, E. K. (2020). Some cyber security hygienic protocols for teleworkers in COVID-19 pandemic period and beyond. International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, 11 (4), 1401–1407.
  19. Poremba, S. (2020). Businesses Underestimate COVID-19 Cybersecurity Risks. Available at:
  20. Banerjee, D. (2020). How COVID-19 is overwhelming our mental health. Nature India. Available at:
  21. Zhang, B. Y., Yan, X. A., Tang, D. Q. (2018). Survey on Malicious Code Intelligent Detection Techniques. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 1087, 062026. doi:
  22. Breda, F., Barbosa, H., Morais, T. (2017). Social engineering and cyber security. Inem Conference: International Technology, Education and Development Conference. doi:
  23. Pinto, D. (2020). Cyber criminals use coronavirus to loot gullible citizens. Available at:
  24. Update: Coronavirus-themed domains 50 % more likely to be malicious than other domains (2020). Check Point’s Global Threat Index. Available at:
  25. Cybercrime and COVID-19: A concern for financial stability during the pandemic (2020). The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA). Available at:
  26. Chigada, J., Madzinga, R. (2021). Cyberattacks and threats during COVID-19: A systematic literature review. SA Journal of Information Management, 23 (1). doi:
  27. Khan, N. A., Brohi, S. N, Zaman, N. (2020). Ten deadly cybersecurity threats amid COVID-19 pandemic. IEEE. Berlin. doi:
  28. Identity theft, viewed (2020). South African Banks Risk Information Centre.
  29. Impact of COVID-19: The World has changed and so have we (2020). Price Waterhouse Coopers. Available at:
  30. Crisanto, J. C., Prenio, J. (2020). Financial crime in times of COVID-19 – AML and cyber resilience measures, bank for international settlements. Available at:
  31. Paek, H.-J., Hove, T. (2021). Information Communication Technologies (ICTs), Crisis Communication Principles and the COVID-19 Response in South Korea. Journal of Creative Communications, 16 (2), 213–221. doi:
  32. Samsad, J., Forkan, A. (2021). Advancing Health Information System with System Thinking: Learning Challenges of E-Health in Bangladesh During COVID-19. International Conference on Health Information Science. Cham: Springer, 15–23. doi:
  33. Balsom, W., Dixon, D. (2020). ‘How COVID-19 shows the urgent need to address the cyber poverty gap’. World Economic Forum-Cybersecurity. Available at:
  34. Laskar, P., Yallapu, M. M., Chauhan, S. C. (2020). “Tomorrow Never Dies”: Recent Advances in Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention Modalities against Coronavirus (COVID-19) amid Controversies. Diseases, 8 (3), 30. doi:
  35. Beware of criminals pretending to be WHO (2020). World Health Organization. Available at:
  36. Chigada, J. M. (2020). A qualitative analysis of the feasibility of deploying biometric authentication systems to augment security protocols of bank card transactions. SA Journal of Information Management, 22 (1). doi:
  37. Regional cybersecurity forum for Europe and CIS (2020). International Telecommunications Union. Sofia Bulgaria. Available at:
  38. Impact of COVID-19 on Cybersecurity (2020). Deloitte. Available at:
  39. Nathan, M. (2020). Credential stuffing: new tools and stolen data drive continued attacks. Computer Fraud & Security, 2020 (12), 18–19. doi:
  40. Magome, M. (2020). South Africa sees sharp rise in virus, part of African wave. Associated Press. Available at:
  41. COVID-19 cyberthreats, viewed (2020). Interpol. Available at:
  42. Why We Click: The Psychology Behind Phishing Scams and How to Avoid Being Hacked (2020). Tessian. Available at:
  43. COVID-19 related scams – news and resources (2020). Action Fraud. Available at:
  44. Cohen, L. E., Felson, M. (1979). Social Change and Crime Rate Trends: A Routine Activity Approach. American Sociological Review, 44 (4), 588–608. doi:
  45. Aldawood, H., Geoff, S. (2020). Contemporary cyber security social engineering solutions, measures, policies, tools and applications: A critical appraisal, 2019-2020. International Journal of Security, 10 (1), 1–15.




How to Cite

Olofinbiyi, S. A. (2022). Cyber insecurity in the wake of COVID-19: a reappraisal of impacts and global experience within the context of routine activity theory. ScienceRise: Juridical Science, (1(19), 37–45.



Juridical Science