Cyber security should always be a priority for companies, as the business world rapidly digitises and operations migrate online. During the coronavirus pandemic, however, cyber security concerns have become even more prescient. The rate of cyber crime has risen dramatically, with both individuals and companies as targets.
At Amazing Support, an IT support company in Manchester, we encourage organisations to take cyber security more seriously right now for two reasons: cyber crime is on the rise; and the majority of the workforce relies on cyber capabilities at present. We also urge businesses to take action, providing a few recommendations on how to stay secure.
COVID-19 Cyber Crime Is on the Rise
Since the start of the pandemic in March, businesses and individuals have experienced an increase in cyber attacks. Cyber criminals are taking advantage of heightened anxiety as a result of the public health crisis, targeting people and devices that may not have their best defences up. There are three major types of attacks to beware of.
- Malicious domains – Cyber criminals started creating malicious domain names containing corona-virus related terms. “Coronavirus”, “covid19”, “corona-virus” and other similar variations have been popping up in the thousands each day. Hackers use these malicious domains to launch phishing or spam campaigns or to spread malware.
- Malware – Cyber criminals are also taking advantage of the larger public’s desire for information on the spread of the disease. There have been malware, spyware, and Trojans embedded in interactive coronavirus maps and websites. Spam emails that trick users into clicking on malicious links have also been common.
- Ransomware – Hospitals, clinics, medical centres, and public institutions have also become cyber security targets. Cyber criminals will send ransomware via email containing infected links or attachments. Their logic is that health and public organisations can’t afford to have downed systems during a crisis, so they’re more likely to pay the ransom.
The Majority of Workforce Relies on Cyber Right Now
If proof of widespread cyber attacks isn’t enough to persuade businesses to increase their cyber security efforts, then perhaps the fact that much of the workforce is relying on cyber capability during the pandemic is. As most countries require or strongly encourage companies to allow remote working when possible, businesses have had to set up teleworking quickly.
Companies that didn’t already have a robust infrastructure in place for remote or cloud-based work have seen a tougher transition that those that had. The coronavirus crisis has, therefore, presented an opportune moment for companies to invest more in cyber security to keep their data and their employees safe. As a result of the increased COVID-19 related cyber attacks, many businesses have started to see the benefit of cyber security. A report from LearnBonds revealed that 68 percent of major organisations, public and private, are planning to increase spending on cyber security in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Similar sentiments are echoed by professionals in cyber security and IT, who’ve been urging companies not to reduce staff or budgets dedicated to cyber security right now. They recognise that companies have more limited resources, but also emphasise that a highly remote workforce necessitates robust cyber security. One way to accomplish this is by outsourcing security support since maintaining full-time staff just might not be feasible.
What Cyber Security Measures Businesses Should Take
In light of these threats to companies’ cyber security during the coronavirus pandemic, how should they respond? We’ve outlined the three most important steps businesses should take.
- Keep software updated – Cyber security 101 is always keeping applications, programmes, and software up to date. When manufacturers release an update, they often include a patch for some known vulnerability. Businesses can close off potential access points for hackers by always installing updates.
- Protect mobile devices – Mobile device use by businesses has gone up by 37 percent since the end of 2019, as companies are trying to adapt to remote working. As a result, installing firewalls and extra protection on company devices should be a priority for businesses.
- Do regular backups – Backups and system monitoring should be cornerstones of any good disaster recovery plan. Businesses that don’t have an IT disaster recovery plan would be well advised to create one. Should a company suffer a cyber attack, having the system backed up will help in getting things running again.
Cyber security is a serious business concern at any time, but it’s especially pressing for businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Increased cyber threats levelled against companies and individuals should motivate businesses to take cyber security more seriously during this time.