The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly brought up various challenges for the world. Apart from the health hazards, i.e., the virus itself, a number of other problems have emerged as well. An unexpected yet serious threat related to COVID-19 is a rise in cybercrimes. While the world is battling the pandemic, cybercriminals have taken advantage of the situation to launch attacks against various companies, individuals and health organisations. This has led to a rise in demand for security testing services across the world.
For example, cyberattacks on the WHO (World Health Organisation) have grown five times compared to last year. Other healthcare organisations and hospitals are facing such cyberattacks as well, with hackers constantly trying to steal information or carry out fraudulent activities. The main forms of cyberattacks which have seen an increase during the pandemic are:
- Impersonation: Several cases were recorded where hackers contacted members of the general public pretending to be from the WHO or other organisations. They then urge these victims to donate money to WHO to help fight the pandemic, while the donated money actually goes to fake accounts belonging to hackers.
- Phishing: Phishing attacks have grown manifold, with the hackers sending out malicious emails and SMSs to their targets. Phishing has especially increased with the growth in work from home(WFH) trend. With a large number of people working online, it is easy for the perpetrators to pretend to be from legitimate sources and send phishing mails to their targets.
- Penetration of video conferences: Along with the WFH trend, the use of video conferencing technology has grown considerably. Even major board meetings are being carried out through video calls, thus providing the hackers with an attractive hunting ground. In several cases, video calls were infiltrated by hackers, who then stole crucial information.
- Hacking of personal devices: While working from home, a majority of the employees use their personal devices and Wi-Fi. In an office environment it is possible for companies to keep the devices updated with the latest security patches and protocols. A personal device is usually a bit old, without the necessary security features to fend off cyberattacks. As a result, these devices are quite vulnerable and can be penetrated easily.
- Compromising of email payments: Hackers often manage to gain access to the emails between a business and their employees or clients. They use the opportunity to gather crucial information like bank details and passwords, which enable them to steal large amounts of money directly.
- Attacks on remote services: Many companies are relying on various remote services to provide their employees with the necessary synchronisation. Penetrating these systems can allow hackers to steal plenty of data. For example, the use of cloud services has greatly increased during the pandemic. Cybercriminals hacking into cloud accounts would gain access to large volumes of data. This happens especially in case of human errors on the part of the victim.
Evidently, the rise in cybercrime is directly linked to the increase in the use of the internet during the lockdown. With companies switching to online means of operation, there is no dearth of prey for cybercriminals. This is why security testing services are now of utmost importance. Every company needs to take necessary measures to safeguard their interests and their employees from cyberattacks.
Also Read: Top 6 Software Security Testing Trends
What are the solutions to this situation?
The most important step in protecting yourself or your company from cyberattacks is to take preventive or protective measures. Some core ones include:
- Update your security system: All your online systems and devices should be protected by the latest security protocols and firewalls. In case your employees are using their personal data connections for work, provide them with a reliable VPN for added security. All operating systems, whether in their personal devices or at the office must be up-to-date.
- Prevention of human errors: Most cyber crimes take place after the victim makes a mistake, such as inadvertently sharing personal information or bank details. It is advisable not to send such sensitive information over emails. In case if it’s sent via email, the mail must be protected by a password which would be sent to the recipient through other means. One shouldn’t click on any suspicious links, especially if the device isn’t protected by anti-phishing technology.
- Penetration testing: You must remember that cybercriminals are coming up with new techniques almost every day and you need to adapt accordingly. It is highly advisable to opt for security testing services from reputed cybersecurity firms on a regular basis. These firms hire professionals who can detect any vulnerabilities in your systems and fix it quickly.
- Hire cybersecurity experts: The best way to gain protection against hackers is to hire a team of cybersecurity experts for your company. The size of the team would depend on the scale of the company, value of the information which hackers may potentially reap and the risks. It is recommended to carry out some research, check out the best cybersecurity firms and hire the professionals from a suitable one.
- Use trusted software: Never use any software from untrusted sources, be it for personal or commercial reasons. These may potentially contain malicious content or programming which can steal sensitive data. If in doubt, approach a cybersecurity expert and ask for his/her opinion before installing the package. Similarly, carry out video conferences only on platforms which come with proper IT support and have a long-standing reputation.
- Backup system: All your important data must be saved in a reliable backup system. This way, you can restore it easily in case a perpetrator does manage to hack into your system and cause damages. However, you must make sure that the backup system is highly secure from cyberattacks. Credentials to access this backup system must not be stored in your main system at any cost.
It is evident that the proverb ‘prevention is better than cure’ is completely applicable when it comes to cybersecurity. This is why the large companies always hire leading cybersecurity firms for protection. Now with the rise in cyberattack during the lockdown, the demand for such services has further increased and one can expect this to stay for the long term.