Apr 22

COVID-19 Related Cyber Attacks Are On The Rise – Is Your Company Next?

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a crack in many business’ security systems as hackers have exploited the vulnerabilities in work-from-home tools.

We’ve compiled a list of recent developments in the cybersecurity world such as work from home orders, Zoom’s privacy debacle, and Finastra’s win against ransomware attacks. We’ve also outlined a few best practices to ensure your company remains secure.

REMOTE WORKING AND WHY IT MAKES IT EASIER FOR HACKERS TO VIEW INFORMATION

The global workforce has changed overnight with millions of people filing for unemployment and others scrambling to adapt to working virtually with limited or unfamiliar resources. Since March, remote login activity on vulnerable networks has shot through the roof, creating an easy target for attackers, according to this report by TechCrunch.

Breach protection company Cynet recently tracked how working from home correlates with the number of cyberattacks by comparing the number of attacks in Italy versus countries that had not faced social distancing orders. The study found Italy faced an escalation of malicious log-in events and an uptick in email-based attacks, reported TechCrunch.

ZOOM FEELS THE HEAT

Zoom, the popular enterprise video communications tool that saw its number of users leapfrog overnight from 10 to 200 million since the pandemic, has been in hot water for its security vulnerabilities this past month. While the company had security measures already in place prior to COVID-19, it was unprepared for the influx of new users and use cases, and hackers took notice.

Research from cybersecurity firm Proofpoint recently discovered a wave of phishing emails intending to steal Zoom credentials and spread malware. To make matters worse, the company had allegedly made false claims about end-to-end encryption. Yet, according to Forbes, cyber attackers were able to bypass this to listen and view encrypted calls.

To its credit, Zoom reacted quickly to security flaws. The CEO publicly apologized for the unforeseen vulnerabilities in its technology and immediately put stronger security measures in place.

HEALTHCARE UNDER SIEGE FROM HACKERS

Hackers are the ultimate opportunists, always seeking new targets to take advantage of, the Department of Health and Human Services included. On March 15th, hackers attempted to overload DHHS’s servers by spamming the department with millions of requests. After picking up on the increase in activity, security employees monitored and fought the breach for several hours. The cyberattack was unsuccessful, but if hackers had succeeded, they could have retrieved thousands of private health and personal information. The attack would have slowed the department’s ability to respond to the coronavirus crisis.

FINTECH BANK POWERS THROUGH

Finastra, the world’s largest fintech bank with around 9,000 customers across 130 countries, detected a ransomware attack late in March as well. Unlike Zoom, Finastra was better prepared. The company used an ‘isolation, investigation, and containment’ approach, temporarily disconnecting its affected servers while employees worked tirelessly to contain the breach. At the same time, Finastra conducted a rigorous review of its servers before restoring them the following Monday. The successful defense was in large part due to Finastra anticipating and preparing for such a disruption.

PROTECTING YOUR COMPANY

The pandemic has made it harder for organizations to ignore cybersecurity. Every organization, large or small, must prioritize security now.

The first step is to identify the areas your organization must protect. Ask yourself:

1. What data is critical to the company?
2. Where does the data live?
3. Who has access to that data?

Then, consider the following steps to help protect your company’s information.

First, educate your team on social engineering, a non-technical kind of intrusion that relies heavily on human interaction and involves ‘tricking’ other people to break normal security procedures.

Second, evaluate if your company can afford to utilize external IT resources. When financially accessible, external managed service providers can offer around-the-clock monitoring and support in the event of a security breach. Management service providers can also provide log management, vulnerability assessments, endpoint, and network monitoring.

Third, consider virtual desktop implementation. Virtual desktop tools replicate the desktop experience from any web browser, preventing the need for important information to be saved onto your employees’ hard drives and therefore, closing yet another opportunity for hackers.

Once your systems are set up, be sure to test your disaster recovery plan regularly and with varying team members. The key is to anticipate attacks from every angle and practice getting ahead of them.

WHAT’S NEXT?

The month of March showed us how powerful cyber-related threats can have on companies during a time of crisis. We can expect cybersecurity threats to persist beyond the pandemic, making it critical that companies remain vigilant and make it harder for hackers to compromise company data.

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