In terms of security and adapting to new operating practices, the year 2020 was a major challenge for organizations and individuals. It is also not surprising that there will be more security challenges in the year 2021. The sudden and unexpected global disruption caused by COVID-19 left organizations struggling to ensure security and business continuity as new threats emerged and they shifted to a remote workforce. With this, businesses were forced to adopt new technology efforts, work practices, and maximize their ability to prevent, detect, and overcome security breaches.
While the world’s attention is focused on the economic and security threats posed by COVID-19, cybercriminals are benefiting from the crisis. As attackers use COVID-19 to threaten organizations by misleading customers and employees – phishing, malicious emails, and ransomware attacks have increased.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has had a significant impact on organizational security; the five cases that caused the greatest security losses to enterprises in 2020 are listed below.
1. Major Concern in Cloud Security
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all companies around the world, and we are suddenly relying on cloud-based services to safely work from home. However, if not implemented correctly, these operations are often held outside of the company’s usual protective network measures, leaving employees and organizations vulnerable.
Security and privacy are critical in the new era of cloud computing and services. However, COVID -19 has had an impact on many companies’ security and privacy. Cyber threats have become more sophisticated as businesses continue to adapt to the pandemic’s changes and challenges.
To protect the cloud environment, businesses must take a proactive approach:
- Take advantage of automated security tools and services.
- Address major security threats
- Educate the IT team on their role in protecting the cloud network
- Install and maintain the firewall, and test it on a regular basis
2. Sophisticated Phishing
One of the most effective ways that hackers can use COVID-19 to crack the security of the cloud is a phishing attack by posing a legal message from government authorities. This message dupes the recipient to click on a malicious link and download an attachment containing a virus and malware. This is particularly dangerous on online networks as Malware can spread quickly in the cloud. In mid-April of the year 2020, Google’s Threat Analysis Group reported that they were blocking 18 million COVID-19 themed malware and phishing emails per day.
The following is how to protect yourself from phishing attacks:
- Organizations must educate users about user awareness training in order to keep them up to date on the latest threats.
- The IT department must ensure that remote workers are protected by the same centralized security measures that are used in the office environment.
- Never download suspicious files – Always double-check unusual download requests
3. Security Attacks on Remote Workers
The fast shift to remote work has resulted in the growth of personal devices used for business, which has led to an increased security risk with many employees working from home and students learning virtually. Enterprise virtual private network (VPN) servers have now become a lifeline to companies, and their security will be a major focus. Make sure that the sensitive data is separated from personal devices to encourage the use of secure systems for remote work.
Several actions should be accounted for in security planning, including those listed below:
- Organizations should take proactive measures by advising their employees to be more vigilant and cautious, particularly when opening links, emails, or documents pertaining to the subject COVID-19
- If personal devices are used, consider implementing a virtual desktop solution for remote access to company files through a secure connection
- Review anti-virus protection of devices
- Apply regular software updates to patch security flaws and deny hackers access
- Filter out unauthorized network access
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shift in working practices that hackers and other bad actors are exploiting. Malicious spam that triggers a ransomware infection can use the COVID-19 lure. Although preventing a successful ransomware attack is the best outcome and creating a backup is the best alternative. Ransomware encrypts files on endpoints, threatening to delete them or prevent access to the system. This is especially dangerous for ransomware. So, defending against ransomware requires a holistic, all-hands-on-deck approach that brings together your entire organization.
The following are the ways that organizations can assist in preventing Ransomware attacks and mitigating the effects of Ransomware:
- Maintain backups and have a recovery plan
- Create policies and plans for the IT security team
- Keep the systems with up to date software and train the team
- Implement Intrusion Detection System for malicious activity
5. Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS)
According to the study from Kaspersky, denial of service attacks increased in the second quarter of 2020, most likely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the COVID-19 pandemic, attackers used a different set of weapons in their DDoS attacks. the number of DDoS attacks detected and blocked by the security companies for its customers has increased by 217% compared to the same period last year.
The comparative number of DDoS attacks from the first quarter and second quarter of 2020, and the second quarter of 2019, (Source: Kaspersky)
According to a report from Kaspersky, there will be an increase in DDoS attacks in the third quarter of the year 2020 as many employees continue to work from home, and such attacks will surge during the holiday season in the fourth quarter of the year 2020.
To combat DDoS attacks, you must have a solid and strategic plan, which should include the following:
- Put the right people and the right governing infrastructure in place to defend against DDoS attacks, and ensure they understand their role in the event of an attack.
- Perform network security audits
- Create a DDoS prevention plan based on security assessments
- Secure the organization’s network infrastructure
- Keep all software up to date
Cyber Sainik SECaaS:
COVID-19 has forever changed people’s lives with new ways of working, new security concerns, new strategies and proposed policies, and so on. The fight against COVID-19 affects everyone, not just organizations, employees, or customers. Cyber Sainik Networks’ Security as a Service (SECaas) solutions improves security, performance, and resource availability. Contact us today for more information