The coronavirus pandemic is still far from being over and in addition to disrupting the social and economic systems, it has also threatened the digital space. As the companies are undergoing colossal transformations, relying more and more on digitalization of their operations, the risk of cyberattacks is also increasing in substantial ways. Majority of employees in almost every organization are working remotely over internet connections and cloud based systems, and although this shift in work culture has been a blessing amid the pandemic, there are many cybersecurity concerns looming large on the horizon. Cybercriminals are exploiting the pandemic and the uncertainty around to carry out malicious activities. Therefore, as the companies are building their digital capabilities to adjust to the new normal, they also face a heightened risk of falling prey to cyberattacks. Take a detailed look at how exactly the cybercriminals are taking advantage of the situation and why cybersecurity is important for business today.
- Increased Dependency on Digital Systems
With more than 150 countries having reported COVID-19 cases, the world has exponentially increased its dependency on digital systems. Internet is now the most preferred means of interacting, working, contacting and supporting each other. Organizations are offering work from home to their employees and business communications are being carried out using chat platforms, social media platforms and video calls. Broad-based cyberattacks in such a scenario could be devastating. If the communities lose access to their data or devices, it would lead to infrastructure failure, hampering the operations of networks, public systems and even healthcare workers.
- Risky Online Behaviors
When people spend a lot of time online, it often leads to risky internet behaviors. They could fall for traps offering “free” access to shows, etc, which are likely to be malware and other scams. Some hackers also ask for credit card information or installation of specialized applications in exchange of access to some websites. Surfing habits of people are expanding amid this pandemic as they are stuck at home due to the social distancing protocols and are spending most of their time online. Hackers develop multiple techniques of tempting the users to click on the wrong or risky links which could be very dangerous.
- Video Conferencing
Video conferencing, like other technologies, is also vulnerable to cyberattacks if not managed properly. The business community, these days, is hugely dependent on video conferencing and fraudsters are finding ways to gain unauthorized entry to video calls, hijack screen controls, eves-drop on conversations and launch other malicious attacks. In light of such risks, security concerns have already been raised against the use of some of the most popular video conferencing platforms. Although, the applications can be configured to make them safer, the risk of accidental screen sharing or sharing of confidential data always remains there. This calls for stronger measures to mitigate such risks.
4. Uncertainty and Fear
When a crisis is prolonged as this one, people, surrounded by fear and uncertainty for a long period, tend to become less vigilant about safe online behaviors. Clicking on random links could pose a severe threat to their sensitive data. Research suggests that majority of cyberattacks use social engineering methods. Cybercriminals devise creative techniques to emotionally manipulate people and attain access to their networks, passwords and other important data. People all across the globe are stressed due to the ongoing crisis which could encourage them to take actions without contemplating too much about the risks. Downloading malicious applications and relying on fake information could be very detrimental, giving hackers an opportunity to invade the systems.
- Shift in the Work Environment
With more and more people working from home, organizations are facing additional challenges when it comes to cybersecurity. Hackers are exploiting the unsecured WiFi networks and many unknown vulnerabilities in VPNs to extract sensitive information. Some workers are using personal devices for work which are easier targets for cyberattacks and can comprise their data security and data privacy. Personal devices often lack the tools that protect business networks, customize firewalls and create backups.
The importance of cybersecurity in digital world has heightened in the wake of the current crisis. Hackers have always exploited the new circumstances by upgrading their tactics and this coronavirus pandemic is no exception. However, as the activity of the cybercriminals increases amid this crisis, it’s more important than ever for organizations to ramp up their cybersecurity efforts and put stronger controls and measures in place to make the systems and data safer. Awareness is the most important tool for fighting such attacks and the companies need to understand the importance of cybersecurity awareness training for employees. Informing people about the risks and educating them on vigilance and prevention can be very effective in keeping the systems safe.