Remote work increases exposure to cybersecurity threats

Cyber-criminals have used the novel coronavirus pandemic to their advantage and increased the relentless phishing and ransomware attacks on remote workers, some even disguised as the World Health Organisation.

By impersonating the WHO, cyber-criminals are able to steal personal and sensitive information. In addition, recent reports also show an increase in malicious emails and the spread of misinformation.

Cybercriminals target businesses under lockdown

We reported earlier that cyber criminals also targeted businesses as employees return to work after lockdown, based on a Check Point report. Research showed a correlation between cybercrime and whether the country was still under lockdown.

At the time, the US reported the biggest spike in cyber crime activity, while India recorded more than 12 000 daily cases. Researchers also saw an increase in phishing emails and malicious files disguised as Covid-19 training materials.

Now, a recent survey by Centrify showed that nearly three-quarters of business decision-makers – approximately 70% – believe that a complete shift to remote working during the pandemic crisis has increased the likelihood of a cyber-breach.

Also read – Africa is under cyber attack — Here’s why we need more awareness and training

Remote working increases risk of a cyber-breach

The report was compiled from the information received via a poll of 200 senior business decision-makers from large and medium-sized companies predominantly based in the United Kingdom.

The report highlights that nearly half of the participants surveyed “noted an increase in phishing attacks since implementing a policy of widespread remote working”.

Cybersecurity expert and J2 Software CEO John Mc Loughlin explains that there is an emerging trend in cybersecurity threats worldwide and also a massive spike in scammers and hackers using the pandemic for informational and financial gain.

“Governments worldwide have reported an increase in cyber threats over the past months. The prime reason is the drastic increase of internet users since the global lockdown. Meetings have moved to online platforms as most employees and students now work and study from home”.

Companies need to up their cybersecurity game

More people are spending more time online than ever before, which in turn increased their exposure to the risks of cybercrime. So much so, that an increase of 350% in phishing websites was noted since the start of the pandemic.

Mc Loughlin explains that “inadequate cybersecurity education and awareness is another concern, especially considering the sudden change in online usage and habits’. He adds:

“People don’t always realise the dangers of being online, especially when working from home. Companies often fail to provide staff with adequate cybersecurity education and training, especially with regards to regulation and policies”.

It’s clear that companies need to improve their IT security, control and protect their data while raising awareness among staff and educate teams to reduce the risk of a cyber attack.

Ways to stay safe

  1. Beware of lookalike domains, spelling errors in emails or websites, and unfamiliar email senders.
  2. Be cautious with files received via email from unknown senders, especially if they prompt for a certain action you would not usually do.
  3. Ensure you are ordering goods from an authentic source. One way to do this is NOT to click on promotional links in emails, and instead, Google your desired retailer and click the link from the Google results page.
  4. Beware of “special” offers. “An exclusive cure for coronavirus for $150” is usually not a reliable or trustworthy purchase opportunity. At this point of time, there is no cure for the coronavirus, and even if there were, it definitely would not be offered to you via an email.
  5. Make sure you do not reuse passwords between different applications and accounts. Protection Status

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