Are you currently experiencing an attack?

Are you currently experiencing an attack?

Cybersecurity in a Post-Pandemic World

As the world recovers from the global pandemic, organizations are in a threat environment that’s worse than ever. 

For many, the pandemic has created significant new vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, other threats that are not directly
related to the virus have also grown worse over the past year. 

As your organization plans its post-pandemic strategy, here are some important trends to consider.

The rise in remote working

There has been a monumental rise in people working from home, shopping online, and overall, being more digitally connected than ever before. Cyber criminals are manipulating personal offices as criminal hubs by taking advantage of undefended systems and weaknesses in infrastructure. 

Remote access is an especially important issue; this is a vital feature for companies that is often exploited by cyber-criminals. There are now almost five million Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) servers exposed to the Internet – around two million more than before the pandemic. RDPs require special care and specific considerations; according to the FBI, RDP vulnerabilities are one of the top three most common attack vectors for ransomware.

Also, remote work requires many more devices being used to access corporate networks. Privately-owned devices tend to have a higher rate of malware infection than corporately-controlled devices, which means that businesses now have a potentially high number of compromised machines accessing their networks. 

There are many examples of criminals exploiting the pandemic and the rise in remote working, such as:

  • Between February 2020 and May 2020, more than half a million people were affected by breaches, in which the personal data of video conferencing services’ users was stolen and sold on the dark web. 
  • Fintech company Sapiens paid a $250,000 ransom in bitcoin after hackers threatened to shut down the company’s network. According to reports, the attack took advantage of weaknesses related to employees working from home. 
  • The FBI now receives as many as 4,000 complaints about cyberattacks per day: a 400% increase from pre-coronavirus levels. These attacks target all types of businesses, but large corporations, governments, and critical medical organizations have been major targets. In the first half of 2020 alone, the FBI recorded 12,377 Covid-related scams. 

The Continuing Plague of Ransomware

According to Cybersecurity Ventures there will be a ransomware attack every 11 seconds by the end of 2021. AI based ransomware attacks can encrypt data and lock critical infrastructure. As described in our recent article on ‘How to defend against Ransomware’, you need to have extensive protection to combat and prepare for ransomware attacks.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made many organizations more conscious about losing access to their systems, and more motivated to pay the ransoms. Therefore, they’re now being attacked more frequently. For example:

  • In Italy, malicious actors created a web page mimicking the Italian Federation of Pharmacists website. It was set up to trick users into downloading ransomware disguised as a dashboard showing information on Covid-19. 
  • Another example occurred in March 2020, when Brno University Hospital in the Czech Republic was the victim of a ransomware attack that resulted in the shutting down of its entire IT network as well as cancelled surgeries. 
  • A ransomware attack crippled a hospital in Düsseldorf, Germany, directly causing at least one death (a woman who was unable to get emergency treatment for a life-threatening condition)

Ransomware has grown into a multibillion-dollar international industry over the last decade, and the pandemic has only increased profits.

The Worsening Risks of Inadequate Security

Along with new trends such as employees working remotely and the rising rate of ransomware attacks, existing trends must still be taken into consideration. For example, consumer privacy and compliance management continue to be major issues, and if an organization is deemed to have acted negligently, punitive actions can result. Here are some examples of major companies that received large fines for violating the GDPR:

  • Google was fined €50 million by the French data regulator CNIL, for a breach of the EU’s data protection rules. 
  • H&M was fined in October of 2020 by the Data Protection Authority of Hamburg, Germany. They were fined €35,258,707.95 — the second-largest GDPR fine ever imposed. 
  • British Airways received a €22 million fine due to their systems being compromised. The breach affected 400,000 customers and hackers got their hands on login details, payment card information, and other personal information.

Conclusion

As the world emerges from the pandemic, threat actors are intensifying their efforts and exploiting the situation; thus, businesses must pay extra attention to security. The predicted annual cost of cybercrime is expected to reach a whopping $6 trillion in 2021. Effective web security has never been more important.

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