The quest of serving customers and also enabling remote working for their employees has exposed the majority of companies to cyber risks. Hacking and Phishing attacks were up by 37% in the month of March, according to CloudFlare. Cybercriminals are looking to exploit the disruption created by COVID-19. One such infamous example is of Zoom, wherein intruders would hijack the calls with noise and gross images. Another instance is that of WHO observing double the cyberattacks in March. With increased cyberattacks it becomes essential for companies to take necessary actions for the sake of continuity of their business
Response to COVID-19 has increased degree of risks
Current outbreak has resulted in a paradigm shift in terms of the working environment for most of the companies. Companies have had to provision laptops for their employees to work from home, trying to replicate the same kind of secured environment at their places. Security heads now need to defend their systems on an unknown turf and not home turf. At the workplace, evidently it was pretty straightforward to monitor the activities of the employees, the flow of information, confidential emails, etc with all the process and guidelines in place. However, with this forced though essential change has catapulted security services into uncertainty with high degree of vulnerability.
Some of the risks include –
- Physical Security – With the employees taking laptops to their places, the basic physical security of the assets and information flow can no longer be monitored effectively. There is a risk of employees downloading unnecessary content which may result in downloading some malware and in turn compromising confidentiality of sensitive data on the laptop.
- Access Issues – Number of employees requesting access to the resources behind the company’s firewall would be at higher side resulting in more Public IPs going into firewall rules. Since many employees would work from personal terminals, security teams may not know the authenticity of the IP address requesting the access.
- Lack of understanding / training – Organizations sometimes fail to provide proper guidelines to the employees around best practices they should adhere to while working from home. Hence employees are oblivious to basic hygiene like Password strategies or the awareness around not being fooled into a scam via emails or fake COVID-19 links or apps.
As the outbreak continues to spread, the attackers will keep exploiting many such vulnerabilities in order to impact continuity of the businesses. Companies can follow certain approach in order to lower the impact of such risks
How can companies cope with it?
- WFH Policy – Companies must ensure there is a proper Work from home policy in place. It should include clear guidelines on how to safeguard the sensitive content while exhibiting professional demeanour at the same time. It should also instruct employees to raise the flag with the internal security team whenever they observe any nefarious activity.
- Arsenal in place – Security teams should ensure that necessary precautions are taken to protect critical applications and assets. Such precautions include –
- Securing VPC endpoints
- Enforcing Multi-factor Authentication
- Ability to mitigate Volumetric attacks like DDoS. Having threat intelligence, IDS, IPS in place would help.
- Best Practices – Employees should be instructed to follow best practices laid down by the organization –
- Employees should use passwords that are complex and keep changing them frequently
- VPNs help create trusted connections between employees and the organization
- Frequently updating software’s with latest patches
- Changing default settings of personal WiFi network
- Awareness of phishing scams, click-baits, etc
The ongoing crisis is a major hurdle in advancements of various business sectors like lifestyle, retail, oil & gas and so on. However, it has created lots of opportunities for cyber-attackers to hijack the continuity of the operations. At the same time, it is a vital chance for cyber security experts to evolve and implement strategies to sustain business. Adhering to aforementioned straight forward steps would help businesses minimize the impact of such vulnerabilities.
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