Back on May 14, Stephen McBride wrote in Forbes: “The coronavirus is laying the groundwork for a massive cyberattack. In fact, I’m on record today saying we’ll see the largest cyberattack in history within the next six months.”
Five months later, it’s clear that McBride was eerily correct. Hackers have been targeting health care institutions, social media networks, hotel chains, public school districts, global maritime regulators and shipping lines, and even the World Health Organization (WHO). In fact, as a result of criminals looking to take advantage of challenges associated with the pandemic, WHO representatives say they’ve seen cyberattacks double since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis.
Of course, cyberattacks have been a problem for decades, but they’re flourishing as technology takes an ever more prominent position in our everyday lives. Other factors include the rise of cryptocurrencies and more advanced hacking techniques.
“The trend has been going up for a while, but in 2020 it has just been skyrocketing,” Dmitri Alperovitch, chairman of nonprofit cybersecurity think tank Silverado Policy Accelerator, told The Wall Street Journal.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which aims to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity while giving people and businesses the resources they need to be safer and more secure online. With that in mind, Brandon Lickey offered strategies for practicing “good cyber hygiene” in a recent ASCM blog post:
- Use a virtual private network (VPN): With so many people now working from home, we simply can’t trust basic Wi-Fi. Organizations should ensure all users access internal systems and online services using a VPN to securely connect to corporate resources over the internet. This will provide a much-needed extra layer of security.
- Don’t take the bait: Phishing attacks, specifically on corporate email, have dramatically increased in recent months. Hackers typically use a disguised email as a weapon, so organizations must ensure that employees know what to look for and are cautious about opening attachments or clicking on links from unknown or suspicious senders.
- Implement robust authentication: Multifactor authentication is critical for remote work. As history has shown, passwords are one of the most heavily targeted entry points to any organization because users tend to recycle a set of common passwords. Only granting access to corporate resources after successfully providing two or more pieces of evidence makes exploiting those logins much more difficult.
- Proceed with caution: Even as the outbreak subsides and workforces return to the office, cyber criminals are likely to be lurking in the shadows. “Cyber criminals are patient and stealthy,” Lickey writes, “often establishing long-form attacks that allow them to fly under the radar for extended periods of time.” The first weeks back in the office will be critical to making sure enterprises can keep operating.
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