Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to exploit situations so that they can attack businesses and organizations more effectively. The COVID-19 crisis and all of its technological challenges have opened another door to bad actors who are eager to take advantage of the chaos and confusion. It can feel overwhelming to have yet another thing to deal with, but cybersecurity is of the utmost importance now, more than ever.
Understanding how attackers are exploiting the COVID-19 crisis is the first step in protecting your information. Then, you can audit your cybersecurity measures to find any vulnerabilities, and work to strengthen your security.
Poor Remote Work Practices
A lot of companies were forced into sending employees home to work without a strong plan in place. While organizations would normally take the right precautions to secure endpoints and end-users accessing a company network, the pressing nature of COVID-19 distancing requirements created a less-than-ideal situation for setting up best practices.
Hackers are well aware of this and have been actively seeking vulnerabilities. Organizations should be working to secure employee devices, updating systems, and putting strong policies and monitoring into place. Employees should understand that their devices used at home need to be just as secure as those used at work, avoiding insecure networks and unauthorized downloads.
Now is the time to check in on your systems and ensure that everyone remotely working is meeting the same standards in place in the office. Physical distancing makes it difficult if not impossible to do this in person, but remote IT assistance is all you need to secure systems and networks, no matter where your employees may be.
Distributed denial of service attacks allows an attacker to effectively shut down a website by hijacking numerous computers and using that concentrated power to overload a site. According to Europol, there has been a slight increase in these attacks since the outbreak of COVID-19, but they expect more. Because DDoS attacks are cheap and easy for attackers to launch, they are among the more popular types of cybercrime.
Those same poor remote work practices listed above can open the door to DDoS attacks, showing how important it is to keep sight of security while working remotely. It is an especially challenging situation for organizations that are relying on their web presence to stay profitable and competitive in this time where face-to-face interaction is restricted. Putting strong cybersecurity practices into place can close the door on DDoS attempts.
The COVID-19 Crisis And Phishing Emails
Cybercriminals often use people’s fears and emotions to scare them into making bad decisions. Even employees who know better than to fall for a phishing attack in normal situations may fall prey to coronavirus-related scams, concerned about the pandemic and its impact.
Since COVID-19 hit, attackers have been sending emails purporting to be from healthcare professionals, the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, and similar. They may also offer business-related information about the virus, like analyst reports or industry views. Whatever these emails claim to be, they are phishing attacks designed to make someone click a link that introduces ransomware, keyloggers, and other exploits.
These types of attacks prey on anxious people who are nervous about the virus, are worried about how their business will come through the pandemic, or want to learn more about coronavirus. They see these emails as a legitimate opportunity. It’s essential to explain to everyone in your organization that they should not feel pressured or scared into clicking anything in an email, especially if it is not from an expected source.
Phishing attacks can be reading such messages thoroughly. If there are spelling or grammar issues, consider that a big red flag. Readers should also double-check URLs and sender emails before taking action. Email addresses and links that look legitimate at first glance often turn out to have suspicious details or misspellings, revealing them to be scams upon closer inspection.
Ransomware - The Details
Ransomware, especially targeting healthcare organizations, is on the rise during COVID-19. Interpol released a statement in April 2020 noting that hospitals and other front-line institutions who have to deal with the physical dangers of coronavirus, must also face cybercrime threats as attackers lock them out of critical systems to extort payment. According to Interpol, ransomware attacks are on the rise and they have alerted all of their 194 member countries to the heightened threat.
For healthcare organizations and other critical industries, ransomware is a frightening prospect. These attacks remove access to critical information until the targeted organization can pay a ransom or otherwise restore their data and remove the hacker’s access. In time-sensitive situations, which are common when treating patients, it can seriously hinder their efforts to provide care.
COVID-19 related ransomware appears to be spreading primarily via email, according to Interpol, which brings us back to safeguarding against phishing. Businesses and organizations of all kinds should protect against ransomware and similar attacks with strong email practices and policies, regular data backups, and anti-virus prevention and removal.
Working With An MSP To Secure Your Systems
We know that times are tough right now and that everyone is working as hard as they can to deal with the various impacts of COVID-19 on business operations. Our team at Renascence IT Consulting is here to help you fight back against cybercriminals, taking the lead on cybersecurity so you can focus on your work and transitioning safely and smoothly through this pandemic.
We have years of experience guiding companies through remote work, lowering risk, increasing productivity, and handling the unexpected. Whatever coronavirus throws at you, we are here to uncover any IT issue, find its source, and create customized solutions that make your business better not just now but also in the future.
Get in touch with us to handle your coronavirus security concerns. You can also call us at 510-552-6896 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.