The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how the world works in numerous ways. Most of all, it has impacted businesses, with physical offices closed for long periods of time all over the world. Due to the urgency of the situation, companies did not have the amount of time required to put proper cybersecurity protocols in place before sending their workforce to work from home. This led to an outbreak of cybersecurity risks and attacks, with data at risk.
Of course, most people use their residential connection such as Cox internet for their remote work activities. These do not have business-specific security protocols in place, hence, are vulnerable to cybercriminal activities. The pandemic has led to an increase in such activities and has changed the cybersecurity landscape in a number of other ways as well.
Increased Phishing & Ransomware Attacks
Over the time period of the pandemic, numerous people were working from home. When working in an office environment, there are numerous defences in place against phishing and ransomware attacks. However, the same level of vigilance cannot be possibly maintained when the majority is not present at the physical workplace.
Malicious parties take advantage of this vulnerability and target people working remotely to get access to company data and information. Many people fall for phishing and ransomware scams because of the sheer planning and effort put behind them. According to Deloitte, 47% of individuals fall for these attempts while working from home.
More Potential for Fraud
As companies cannot scrutinize their employees’ online activity at home as much as they can in the office, this leaves ample temptation for fraudulent behavior. This is especially true when businesses are conducting layoffs, and at-risk employees feel disgruntled. They may be tempted to sell confidential data for money or leak it for vengeance.
These activities can be hard to detect in remote work environments. Therefore, it might be too late when companies actually manage to identify the perpetrators and take action against them. Confidentiality contracts and proper exit policies are the right way to counter these situations.
More Usage of Public Networks
Often, internet connections at home may not be fast or reliable enough for work purposes. This leads people to using public WiFi networks at cafes or other places, which put information and data at risk. Public networks are a common waiting place for hackers to get into someone’s system and leech the data.
These hackers may even affect the device’s functionality, rendering it useless for usage. Companies should advise employees to use private networks, and if there are issues, they can facilitate these employees with either internet upgrades or alternative internet networks. They should consider worker feedback, and take the appropriate measures to protect the business.
Late Attack Detection & Response
As workers are scattered all over the country, or even the world, it becomes extremely difficult for companies to detect the exact source of a cyberattack and respond accordingly. Therefore, when a cybersecurity breach occurs, companies may suffer huge losses before they are able to shut the attack down and take the right redemptive measures.
This means that companies need to work on better supervision and security for remote work employees. Otherwise, such attacks may happen on a regular basis, which can be fatal for any organization in this increasingly data-driven world.
The Rise in Cybercrime Activities
The past year or so has led to a lot of people losing their jobs or spending long periods of time at home. This gave expert and fledgling hackers plenty of time and opportunities to hone their skills. With the advent of remote work all over the world, computer systems are wide open for these hackers to attack.
Therefore, cybercrime increased considerably in 2020, with phishing, hacktivism, and ransomware all playing a major role. These activities also increased due to the higher levels of stress and systemic dissatisfaction emerging during the pandemic. The pandemic also brought economic and geographical inequalities to light, which led to hacktivists gearing up their efforts for social and humanitarian causes.
VPN Configuration Changes
Virtual Private Networks (VPN) are commonly used to protect data at workplaces. However, VPN configuration needs to be changed when employees are working from home. These configuration changes can give malicious parties the right doorway to get into employee systems and access the business’ data.
In addition, the companies which created these VPNs had never faced such a challenge before. This meant that it took some time for appropriately secure configuration settings to become more commonly available.
Personal Computers for Work
Not all companies give employees office-allocated computer systems with all the cybersecurity protocols in place. Many places have a BYOD (bring your own device) policy and use their personal computers for work purposes. This creates a lot of vulnerabilities, making it easier for cybercriminals to attack.
To sum up, the pandemic brought a whole set of cybersecurity challenges. However, now that some time has passed by, innovators are coming up with some great solutions to these increasing cybersecurity threats.