A look at Cybersecurity, post-pandemic
Just as criminals prey on victims when they are at their most vulnerable, for example, after a natural disaster, COVID-19 will be no different. Since the pandemic hit, we have seen an explosion of phishing and malware campaigns, with many of our own contacts reporting up to a 300 percent increase in phishing attacks since February 20201 (many posing as COVID-19 information or resources).
The uptick in attacks couldn’t be happening at a worse time. As businesses operate from remote locations, IT resources are stretched thin and employees, facing a multitude of new challenges working from home, will invariably struggle to remain as vigilant to cybersecurity threats as they are under normal working conditions.
And yet, it’s at times like these when more than usual vigilance is required. Employees working remotely may have less secure connections, including Wi-Fi connections and shared devices. Remote workers will also have plenty of distractions that can divert attention and increase the likelihood of a phishing email being overlooked.
In the short term
Under regular circumstances, corporations globally suffer cyber losses amounting to trillions of dollars annually. For example, according to one study, the forecast for the global cost of cyber crime pre-pandemic was expected to exceed $2 trillion in 2020. Now that companies are thrust into conducting business from multiple locations with little or no preparation, that number is likely to increase.
As companies rely on unfamiliar technology, such as video conferencing tools, and as employees connect to company servers using unsecured devices, increased opportunities for cyber attacks will continue to push that total higher.
Other areas of vulnerability include:
- Online video and chat sites
- Home routers and Wi-Fi connections
- Mobile devices (typically, these have less security)
- Popular apps, including shopping apps, that could have security gaps
While all industries are vulnerable, hackers are paying particular attention to organizations in and around the health care, pharmaceutical and research sectors, while also targeting academia, financial institutions and e-commerce businesses.
As IT professionals scramble to update systems, install patches, and help businesses secure remote operations, hackers will increase their efforts to gain access to company networks via any method they can.