Methods for Maintaining Cybersecurity During an Epidemic

Regardless of any weather conditions, cybercriminals remain active all year round. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced organisations of all kinds to adapt to new ways of operating, which may have left them vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. Therefore, it is essential for all businesses, regardless of their size or industry, to review and update their existing cybersecurity strategies to meet the current situation and ensure they are well protected.

Does Your Company Face Heightened Risks Now?

Digital security breaches are not a new concern, and organisations have been grappling with them for a while now. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about changes in our technology usage, which have added new dimensions to this challenge. It is worth noting, though, that some sectors, such as the IT industry, have been able to continue operating seamlessly due to the shift toward remote work.

The sudden shift of many businesses to remote operations due to the pandemic has caused significant disruptions to their information technology and security systems. Even businesses that already had a degree of remote working capacity have not been immune to these challenges, effectively levelling the playing field for cybercriminals to exploit the weaker security parameters. It is therefore crucial for organisations to take all necessary preventive measures to safeguard their essential systems.

It is evident that cybercrime is not an isolated event and can impact anyone. To combat this issue, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a public alert in February 2017, cautioning individuals and businesses to stay alert against cybercriminals posing as WHO to steal money or confidential data. This warning has been echoed by other authorities such as the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) who have issued similar alerts.

It is conclusive that cyber attacks on businesses are becoming more prevalent in the current environment. With the economic situation being uncertain and general circumstances being complex, there are numerous opportunities for malicious individuals to surreptitiously access systems without being noticed.

Is Remote Work the Cause of the Problem?

The significant growth of remote work across the world has led to a marked increase in the number of login devices being used for professional purposes. These devices span from everyday smartphones and personal computers, which are not as secure as company-provided equipment, to more advanced devices. This has made it increasingly challenging for businesses to manage these devices and plan accordingly due to the sheer magnitude of the task.

Since the beginning of the decade, cybercrime has become increasingly rampant, with phishing being among the most prevalent forms of attack. According to data from Cynet’s Global Threat Telemetry, Italy has seen a particularly high incidence of hackers attempting to gain unauthorised access to user accounts and engage in fraudulent activities. In February 2021, the monthly volume of phishing attacks was three times higher than the yearly average in 2023.

In light of the current situation, many organisations have permitted their staff to work remotely, and some may attribute any security vulnerabilities that arise to the remote working environment itself. However, the real challenge lies in the approach that many businesses take towards remote work. While it may have been a viable option in the short run to cope with the exigency of the times, it is not a viable long-term solution. Therefore, organisations must take proactive measures to guarantee the safety of their employees.

Take These 5 Steps Immediately

Given that it has been a few weeks since the outbreak of the epidemic, it is imperative to begin considering how to minimize its impact. The potential fallout from a cyber-attack on an organisation should not be underestimated – making investments in measures to safeguard and secure all sensitive data is absolutely essential.

  • Keeping all software used by your business and staff updated with the latest version is critical:

    Given that new security threats and vulnerabilities emerge every day, one of the most reliable strategies to prevent potential attackers is to ensure that your software is running the latest version. This step will help to keep the distance between you and attackers as wide as possible.
  • Validate Login Permissions:

    It is crucial to thoroughly assess which staff members require access to all records within the organisation. Current data access regulations must be reviewed and amended if required. This measure will markedly decrease the number of possible vulnerabilities and reduce the impact of any cyber-attacks.
  • Train Everyone:

    It is a well-established fact that the security of your company is only as robust as its weakest link. This is exemplified by the fact that if even one employee falls prey to a phishing scam, the entire organisation is endangered. Hence, it is imperative to ensure that all personnel understand the importance of protecting confidential information, and that they are motivated to report any suspicious activity to the IT department.
  • Increase Your Defences if Necessary:

    Contrary to popular myths, cyber-attacks bear no resemblance to those portrayed in Hollywood movies. Subtle yet extremely efficacious, these malicious acts are frequently undetectable and do not leave any trace. To guard against them, the most effective approach is to ensure that your systems are sturdy and that your IT personnel are consistently monitoring and enhancing your defences to ensure that they remain at their peak performance level.
  • Adopt a Zero-Trust Approach:

    Zero Trust is the next stage in security solutions that go beyond passwords and multi-factor authentication, utilising Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to monitor user behaviour for any anomalies. This approach entails examining various metrics like user interaction patterns, network connectivity, device authentication, and time of usage. When analysed together, these metrics provide a more comprehensive understanding of user activity, enabling the early detection of potential security threats.

The Way Ahead

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed an unparalleled challenge to the world, but it has come at a time when never-before-seen levels of sophisticated software are accessible. Consequently, businesses can now utilise this technology to combat the crisis in ways that were not feasible even a decade ago. Though there are still several obstacles to surmount, we should appreciate this innovative technology and leverage it to our benefit.

With each passing month, individuals are slowly recovering from the catastrophic impact of the pandemic, both emotionally and financially. Hence, it is crucial that people stay cautious about cyber security to safeguard themselves from potential security threats. It is crucial to keep in mind that these measures are not just necessary in times of emergency, but also to secure your company’s safety at present.

Prevent Damage!

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