How to Strengthen Cybersecurity During/After COVID-19 | By Luke Smith

How to Strengthen Cybersecurity During/After COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has spared no sector — its effects are even being seen in the cybersecurity industry. Through the pandemic, the usage of the internet has skyrocketed, but so has the risk that accompanies it. Now, more than ever, the need for greater cybersecurity could not be more emphasized. 

With everyone in a state of panic and looking for answers, cybercriminals are capitalizing on the heavy reliance people have on the internet. Piggybacking on panic isn’t new for malicious hackers and over the last few months, there’s been a rise in the kinds of COVID-themed cyber traps people are falling prey to, as detailed here in our previous article

Some of the most common  COVID-19 cyber threats include: 

Email Fraud 

As people remain glued to their inboxes waiting for next steps and updates on the pandemic from trusted organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), cybercrooks have taken to impersonating these organizations. In fact, as reported by the BBC, Google reportedly blocks more than 18 million fraudulent coronavirus-related emails (that attempt to get users to download suspicious software or donate to fake organizations) every day!  

Pharma Scams

People are desperate for anything that can help them combat the virus, and cyber hackers are preying on this fear-induced desperation. Fake online drug stores continue to rapidly pop up, hoodwinking innocent people by creating and distributing legitimate-looking links and websites. Combined with SEO, these malicious sites start ranking higher on search results thereby creating an illusion of credibility and trapping people into buying from fake pharma companies.

Video Chat Break-Ins

Consider yourself lucky if you haven’t yet experienced the phenomenon that has come to be known as ‘Zoombombing.’ With most businesses shifting to remote work, video platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, and more have seen spikes in usage, and thus, become prime targets for hackers. Instances have ranged from virtual classes being disrupted to more serious instances like when a public chat hosted by Chipotle and singer Lauv was overhauled by a troll broadcasting explicit content

Employment in the Time of COVID-19 

With so many businesses hitting pause and shutting down, coronavirus has brought with it another pandemic — one of unemployment. In May, the UN’s International Labour Organization predicted that 1.6 million informal economy workers — those workers engaged in economic activities that are not regulated or monitored by the government, like black market workers for instance —  could suffer a loss or damage to their livelihoods. It then reported that the second quarter of 2020 could see a shocking loss that equals 305 million full-time jobs. 

However, the cybersecurity industry is seeing an upswing in employment. Recent reports show that the cybersecurity industry has a workforce gap of 500,000 jobs and that it must grow 62% to meet the requirements of U.S. businesses. This means that currently, cybersecurity jobs are in high demand and these roles are the most sought after: 

  • Security Analyst: This job role includes fighting security breaches and implementing security measures to keep an organization’s data and networks safe. 
  • Security Architect:  Here, professionals design and maintain the infrastructure that protects data by first analyzing current security systems, locating weaknesses, and then updating safeguards. 
  • Chief Information Security Officer: With this job, an executive leads an organization’s security efforts and makes sure to implement and assess security measures and risks throughout the enterprise. 

Combating Cyberthreats and Becoming Future-Ready 

With so many businesses now vulnerable to cyber breaches, it’s important to be vigilant and start doubling down on cybersecurity. Here are a few ways companies can combat cyber threats, especially in the time of (and after) COVID-19: 

  1. Educate employees to identify email fraud: Train employees to differentiate between authentic and fraudulent emails. WHO has even cautioned people that only emails that start with “www.who.int” should be opened. Similarly, give your employees proper guidance on what links are more likely to be spam, for instance, titles like “2020 Coronavirus Updates” is one that is commonly used by cybercrooks to lure people in. 
  2. Set up two-factor authentication: Stolen passwords are an easy way in for cyber attackers but having two-step verification can prevent them from accessing crucial information. 
  3. Install a monitoring system that detects incidents early so action can be taken instantly in case of a breach.
  4. Update data policies: Before or after a cyber breach, it’s important for your company to take certain preventive security measures. These include updating your legal data policies, avoiding or dealing with lawsuits in case of a data breach, and reaching out to possible clients that are affected by the attack, even if no illegal activity has occurred post the breach. 
  5. Educate employees on the dangers of ads displaying coronavirus cures or information. These are most likely to be malicious websites and baits for data, as the Federal Trade Commission warns.  
  6. When using apps like Zoom for company meetings, always generate new meeting IDs with required passwords and share them on a private network like email. 

Experiencing a global pandemic comes with its own mental, physical, and financial toll for both individuals and businesses, so don’t let cybersecurity be another thing to worry about on your list. While cybercrime is increasingly common during these times, investing in cybersecurity measures will safeguard you from falling prey to future attacks. 

July 28, 2020
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