How cybercriminals are making hay during the Coronavirus pandemic

It seems that not a day goes by without some sort of data-breach or cyberattack against a high-profile organisation taking place. So why is this happening?
Firstly, millions more people are working from home because of the pandemic. This is creating more opportunities for cybercriminals, and many of those employees are not following security best-practice.
Many employees are also using their own devices – such as computers and mobile phones – for work purposes. Personal devices usually have far less robust security features than do devices provided and configured by employers’ IT departments. The reverse can also be true – when users of work-provided machines use them to download or install programmes without IT oversight, or access personal email accounts that expose them to various kinds of cyber-threat.

Further reasons for the increase in cyberattacks

The global political landscape is currently very volatile. Factors like the US Presidential election, Brexit, the Hong Kong situation and so on may well be leading to more politically-motivated cyberattacks and cyber-espionage. These don’t only take the form of attacks on high-profile email accounts or supporter/donor information, but also include the spreading of misinformation with the intention of destabilising institutions and governments. Fringe groups also resort to crime in an attempt to finance other operations.
Many countries have shut down bricks-and-mortar shops for varying lengths of time during the pandemic lockdowns. This has driven consumers online and more e-commerce transactions are taking place – creating ever more opportunities for data grabs and fraud. Many of the companies who have only recently moved over to online trading because of the pandemic have less robust security in place.
Another fallout from the pandemic could be that organisations in dire financial straits will become more likely to fall for scams promising quick financial gains or offering loans and credit.

Reducing cyber risks

It is fair to say that few organisations could have foreseen the sudden mass-shift to remote working, but there is evidence that some bypassed their usual cyber security standards in order to get things up-and-running quickly. There are several key areas that organisations should focus on immediately in order to reduce the risk of a serious cyber incident;
– Ensure that critical business functions are protected by proactively monitoring the network and typical attack vectors.
– Supply employees with fully updated guidance, procedures, and tips about current and emerging threats.
– Ensure there is an incident response strategy in place and that it is robust enough to cope in the current climate.

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Some examples of recent attacks

 

In Montreal, a malicious hacker attacked the transit agency responsible for the city’s buses and metros with malware. The attack took part of the reservation system offline and affected approximately 1,000 servers. No data was stolen and metro services were not impacted, but the attacker waited a week before issuing a demand for $2.8 million to restore booking services. The agency refused. As of today (the 1st November 2020) over 75% of the servers have been restored.
The US government has issued a warning to healthcare providers to keep an eye out for a major new ransomware campaign. Attackers are targeting the health sector with ‘TrickBot’ malware. Several hospitals have already had their networks taken offline and a number of patients have been affected. An eastern European gang is suspected of being behind the attacks.
Also in the US, the campaign website of President Trump was the victim of a cyberattack in which hackers defaced the “About Us” page. The attackers also asked visitors to pay money into a cryptocurrency account in order to access sensitive information. No data was stolen in the attack which only lasted about half an hour.
Every day we are seeing evidence that even major firms and institutions are far from bulletproof. IT security is more important than ever in these tumultuous times.

If you are concerned about security for your business and employees working remotely then give Cloudworks a call. We are specialists in cloud technologies, cyber-security and support. In addition, we continuously monitor our clients IT cloud infrastructure to ensure they are secure and protected against the latest threats. Give us a call to find out more and we will find the best strategy and solution to fit your business.

Call Cloudworks on 0115 824 8244 or email info@cloudworks.co.uk