Ways That Covid-19 Has Changed Cybersecurity

  • By David Lukic
  • Oct 28, 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the internet significantly. Organizations and individuals in healthcare, education, and various other industries had to rapidly transform on a large scale to stay ahead, some moving entirely online in a matter of weeks. Though it happened quickly, some of these changes seem to be here to stay.

Active Digital footprint 

The Covid-19 pandemic influenced rapid growth in global internet traffic, online commerce, and social media. Video-conferencing service Zoom recorded a 370% increase in sales in late 2020 and continues to expect an increase in usage. People now share data with online services more frequently than before for almost every product and service consumed.

Asides from consumers, many companies are continuing their remote work policies. This has increased dependence on virtual tools for productivity and collaboration.

With the increased digital footprint, individuals and organizations need to be constantly aware of vulnerabilities to protect their digital assets from cyberattacks and human error.

Asides from consumers, many companies are continuing their remote work policies. This has increased dependence on virtual tools for productivity and collaboration.

With the increased digital footprint, individuals and organizations need to be constantly aware of vulnerabilities to protect their digital assets from cyberattacks and human error.

Pandemic Impact on Cybersecurity

Cyber Threat Intelligence

The surge in online activity has also increased the risk of cyberattacks by hackers who seek vulnerabilities due to the heightened digital footprint.

These attacks take the form of phishing emails with malicious attachments that drop malware to disrupt systems or steal data or fake websites that host malicious code. These phishing and ransomware attacks are becoming more sophisticated and trustworthy, using various channels such as SMS and voice.

During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, malicious actors created fake websites designed to steal email credentials and sent phishing emails disguised as government announcements.

Cyber security risks of working from home

In most cases, remote working has proven to be more desirable than long commutes to the office especially in tech-enabled businesses. This has led to remote working becoming a more permanent situation for most people and companies. 

However, as more employees are working from their personal devices, there are more targets for hackers to access, and in many cases, they are not as defended as organizational environments. 

There are a few risks that are present when employees work from home.

  • Employees may not run antivirus or anti-malware scans regularly.
  • Remote working environments rarely have sophisticated cyber-attack prevention and detection measures.
  • Human error is greater when working from home as employees are more likely to be interrupted.
  • Employees often use personal accounts on free services such as Google Docs which lack the centralized management that would enable them to protect confidential data.

Each organization is only as strong as the weakest link and needs to raise cybersecurity awareness and ensure that all devices and software are up-to-date and secure.

Cyber Attacks On Targeted Industries

During the pandemic, cybercriminals tried to attack healthcare agencies and hospitals, and also exploited Covid-19 awareness campaigns for phishing gains.

One example comes from the World Health Organization (WHO) which experienced a dramatic increase in cyberattacks directed at its staff since the start of the pandemic and recorded five times as many cyberattacks in late April 2020. 

There has been an increase in attacks on retail stores like Target as many consumers have resorted to online shopping and eCommerce. Cybercriminals target customer information, including details from card payments, especially since most of these accounts have low security.

Remote working security risks

How To Protect Yourself From Cyberattacks

Data breaches and cyberattacks are on the rise in all industries, and individuals and businesses should implement safety measures to protect confidential information from cybercriminals.

Improve Staff Awareness. As most operations are now conducted virtually, the risk of cyberattacks is always present. Employees should always be aware of the possibility of a cyberattack, know how to spot a phishing email, avoid bad browsing practices, and create strong passwords.

Antivirus protection. It is important to use antivirus software that acts as a barrier from malware and cyberattacks. Personal computers should be equipped with anti-malware that is updated regularly.

Backup Data Regularly. Regular backups of data can protect against a huge loss if you or your business should experience a cyberattack. Restoring data from a backup is a safety measure that helps to guard against situations where you have to hand over money to criminals in exchange for an encryption key.

Contact a Cybersecurity Consulting Firm. As more companies and businesses conduct their operations online, individuals and organizations continue to be at risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks. Visit IDStrong to learn more about how to ward off cybersecurity threats.

Ensure A Strong Password Protocol. Organizations should ensure that all employees use strong passwords and two-factor authentication on all devices to guarantee strong protection over personal and company passwords. 

Test Cybersecurity Systems. Run tests regularly to identify weaknesses and patch the most critical vulnerabilities as soon as possible. Scanning for vulnerabilities helps to prevent more drastic situations later on.

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