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What is the impact of COVID-19 on cybersecurity in 2020 and beyond?

Explore how organizations & employees can secure themselves from the devastating impacts of cybersecurity issues emerging from the COVID-19 crisis.

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The COVID-19 outbreak has brought cybersecurity issues related to personal and data privacy into the limelight. As remote workers have started going back to their workplaces, different questions are rising about data privacy. 

There is every possibility that hackers and other cyber goons will target the work-related devices of returning workers to achieve their malicious objectives. This post will let you know about the impacts of COVID-19 on online privacy in 2020 and beyond.

COVID-19 and The Rise in Cyberattacks

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, attackers have found new ways of targeting companies and their remote employees. According to Checkpoint’s research, “71% of security professionals have identified a sudden rise in security threats amidst COVID-19 pandemic.” 

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These prominent security threats include:

  • Ransomware
  • Malware
  • Phishing scams
  • Malicious websites collecting users’ information through donation
  • DDoS attacks

During 2020, different organizations experienced different cyber incidents on numerous occasions. For instance, hackers attacked the famous IT services company Cognizant with ransomware. Therefore, the company was unable to provide its services to some of its customers. 

Furthermore, attackers hacked the share trading process of New Zealand’s stock exchange with the DDoS attack. Consequently, the government had to intervene in the matter and deployed its spy agency GCSB to protect the stock exchange’s infrastructure against potential cyberattacks in the future.

Present Scenario

As already mentioned, attackers are targeting businesses across the globe. They are also keeping an eye on end-users and attacking them through customized phishing emails. For example, they encourage users to download COVID-19 related apps and convince them that they are downloading legitimate applications, but they download ransomware instead.

Surprisingly, hackers have registered more than 2200 malicious COVID-19 related domains to continue targeting new users each day. 

During the COVID-19 crisis, cyber-attacks have surged by 125% in European countries and 40% in the rest of the world. 

The recent rise in cybercrimes and other cyber threats has compelled organizations to take precautionary measures immediately. Therefore, 68% of reputable organizations are increasing their budgets to meet the current and future cybersecurity requirements accordingly. They are also considering using business VPNs that help them secure from various cyber risks appropriately. 

What are users doing to tackle cybersecurity issues in 2020?

Like companies, consumers have also faced cyberattacks such as ransomware, malware, and phishing scams lately. For example, New Zealand does not have a larger population than other countries like China and the US. But unfortunately, Kiwis have lost $7.8m to cyber attacks within the first six months of 2020.

Therefore, it won’t be a surprise if netizens start using VPN in New Zealand that allows them to protect their actual IP address and secures them from privacy invasion, data theft, hacking, and other cyber risks. Besides VPN, people are also turning to other cybersecurity tools like antivirus software that enable them to safeguard their devices from malware and other threats. 

Likewise, they use password managers that generate strong and unrecognizable passwords on their devices and help them safeguard their online privacy. Moreover, they are taking huge benefits from encryption software like CrytoExpert, Folder Lock, and others to protect their crucial data online.   

How can employees deal with cybersecurity issues arising from the coronavirus outbreak?

Companies should consider their employees as the first line of defense while dealing with cybersecurity issues emerging due to the COVID-19 crisis. Now is the time to support your employees in fighting against social engineering scams and other security threats proactively. 

Here is how organizations should guide their employees to take these following measures:

  • Don’t click on suspicious emails that include malicious attachments
  • It is better to be skeptical when receiving emails from familiar or unknown senders both
  • You should not forward dubious emails to your colleagues
  • Report suspicious emails to the concerned IT or security department 
  • Fraudsters send emails that contain grammatical errors, do check them
  • Install a company-approved anti-phishing filter on your browsers and emails
  • Install company-approved antivirus software for scanning attachments
  • Donate directly to only trusted charity websites and avoid donating via links provided in emails

How can companies deal with cybersecurity issues in 2020 and beyond?

Organizations or businesses should assume these difficult times as an opportunity to improve their performance and goodwill in terms of cybersecurity. They must consider this crisis as a test of their character and emerge stronger than ever. 

Companies can also protect themselves from coronavirus-related phishing and BEC (Business Email Compromise) scams through training and technical security measures.

Aside from training, companies should follow these recommendations as given below: 

Respond appropriately to a phishing attack

Organizations must develop a sound response plan by incorporating lessons learned from their previous cyber-related encounters and eliminate loopholes in their response plan if remaining. 

Improve your perimeter

There is no harm in using security solutions that help identify and combat risks before hackers or other cybercriminals try to infiltrate your networks. You should deploy tested and proven monitoring controls that let you limit access to your crucial business or customers’ data. 

Coordinate with other departments

You should work and cooperate with other departments in the shape of a team to enhance your cyber fraud detection and prevention practices. 

Wrapping Up

The COVID-19 outbreak has given once in a lifetime opportunity to hackers and other cybercriminals. This is why cybersecurity professionals have witnessed an enormous surge in different kinds of cyber incidents during 2020. 

If we discuss cybersecurity impacts from an organizational point of view, the coronavirus crisis has created various challenges as organizations have shifted towards remote working worldwide. 

As cyber threats are increasing at an alarming rate, business leaders and other stakeholders will have to make quick decisions regarding the online protection of their remote employees and critical services.

Organizations that have implemented effective cybersecurity practices in the first place can still prosper during these challenges times and reap the reward in terms of efficiency and business growth considerably.  

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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