COVID-19 has not just been a healthcare and economic crisis, it has been a cybersecurity one too. Businesses of all sizes across Australia have been seeing an unprecedented surge in sophisticated cyberattacks – an especially worrying trend as cybercrime was already on the rise. Here’s some insight into how the pandemic has impacted cybersecurity and how to protect your business.
Why are Cyber Attacks Increasing During the Pandemic?
The main reason why cybercrime has surged during COVID-19 is that we all experienced a sudden and immediate move into the digital world – one which many businesses and individuals were simply not ready for. We went from having a choice in how we balance our online and offline lives to moving fully online in a matter of weeks or months.
Almost overnight, businesses of every size in every industry were forced to embrace remote working, creating vulnerabilities for hackers and malware to exploit, including:
- Personal devices – For many employees, this meant working on personal devices from home – devices that don’t generally have the same level of security as devices on the office network. Viruses, ransomware and malware could quickly travel through an unsecured device to infect the office network, exposing data for exploitation.
- Unsecured networks – Similarly, we don’t usually have the same levels of protection on our home Wi-Fi networks as we do at work. In fact, many people don’t even know to create a unique and secure password for their router. This creates a very accessible vulnerability for cyber-attacks, giving them access through the home network into the office network and all it contains.
- Digital lifestyles – During COVID-19, being online became the only way to keep living life as normally as possible – shopping, keeping in touch with friends and family, buying groceries, and staying entertained with video streaming accounts. Unfortunately, we don’t all practice the same high level of security with our personal accounts as our IT policies set out in the workplace. Our passwords aren’t as strong, we sign up for services and accounts that may not be secure or authentic, and we use products and services that can actually compromise our online security due to their own vulnerabilities.
As a result, the United Nations reported that cyberattacks were estimated at reaching an astonishing rate of one every 39 seconds! In Australia alone, 59 806 cybercrime incidents were reported in the 12 months leading up to June 2020, with the latest mass attack being an Emotet malware attack focusing on accessing personal and financial information through spam email vectors that caused 4500 attacks in just one day in October. In February, Australia’s most prominent cyberattack occurred affecting parliament and the three main political parties, wreaking havoc.
How to Protect Yourself and Your Business
Cyberattacks can destroy businesses, damage reputations and cost millions of dollars in costs. You can help protect yourself and your business by:
- Introducing safeguards – Implement strong protection mechanisms at home as well as in the office, to both devices and networks. This includes good password practices, antivirus protection solutions, multi-factor authentication, patching software and keeping applications up-to-date, researching applications before installing them, good email practices, and regular secure backup of your system and data.
- Education and awareness – Human error and lack of knowledge is something that hackers try to exploit, and education and training is the most effective way to combat this. Remind your teams of the importance of security and vigilance, provide resources to help understand where vulnerabilities exist and how to counter them. When your teams know how to secure their home devices and networks as well as how to recognise suspicious links and online activities, they are better protected – and so is your business.
Keep Your Business and Personal Information Secure – Speak to a Cyber Security Specialist
An experienced IT security provider like Milan Industries has the experience, expertise and solutions in place to provide businesses of every size with comprehensive security against phishing attacks, malware and ransomware attacks. Not only can we implement comprehensive IT security policies and solutions, we can also train your employees on safe computer use and cybercrime prevention. For more information, please contact us today.