Pandemic Leads to Increase in Cyberattacks

The rapid shift in work has been dramatic for nearly every American business. In short order, millions of employees had to shift the way they work, leaving corporate offices for living rooms, dining rooms, home offices, and kitchen tables. Instead of working together in offices and gathering in conference rooms, we find ourselves logging into online videoconferencing tools such as Zoom or using Microsoft Teams to connect with colleagues and share files.

The disruptions have been significant, resulting in dramatic adjustments in how we interact with each other. For businesses, it’s meant shifting to remote access to digital files, sensitive data, and applications, often over home WiFi networks. Companies have had to quickly develop solutions to work processes while asking employees to use new software applications and teaching themselves how to operate and remain productive while also juggling fears about their health and their families. At the same time, Americans are seeing significant economic disruption, spiraling unemployment rates, and uncertainty about when life will return to some semblance of normal.

Cyber Attacks Fort Worth COVID19 Pandemic

The Rise of Pandemic Cyberattacks

Just as Americans are adjusting to this dramatic change in their lives, companies must grapple with an uptick in cyberattacks. Why? Hackers know that employees are hungry for information about COVID-19, government subsidies for businesses and individuals, and the latest news. That’s led to a massive increase in potential attacks, often called phishing attacks, using emails as the primary vector.

These emails often claim to be from an official health or government agency or a trusted public figure. Readers eager for the latest news are more likely to click on attachments or website links promising to provide more information on health or finances. But doing so leads to malware embedded on computers that can make their way into your company systems.

Phishing attacks often aim to steal sensitive personal information about employees or customers. Others launch ransomware attacks, which hold websites and computer systems hostage until payments, usually in the form of untraceable cybercurrency, are paid.

During the COVID-19 crisis, attacks are targeting operating systems, preventing them from loading, and erasing data on infected computers.

How persistent are the attacks? Two U.S. agencies, the Department of Homeland Security and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre issued a joint statement.

“Malicious cyber actors rely on basic social engineering methods to entice a user to carry out a specific action. These actors are taking advantage of human traits such as curiosity and concern around the coronavirus pandemic,” the alert noted.

Tips to Prevent COVID-19 Cyberattacks

Preventing cyberattacks begins with employee awareness and education. Users need to understand the risks and how hackers can execute them. Here are a few tips to prevent your business from falling victim to a COVID-19 cyberattack.

  • Be skeptical of emails that claim to offer a miracle cure for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Other tricks used include calls, emails, and texts claiming that a family member is sick and needs money.
  • Know that government agencies and tech companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft will not contact you asking for account usernames, passwords or payment account details
  • You should not share personal, sensitive, or financial information about your business to callers or in response to emails. The IRS will not contact your company directly for details on stimulus funds, for example. You should never share business usernames or passwords, employee IDs, Social Security numbers or customer details with callers or over email
  • If you suspect an email is fraudulent, hover over the sender’s email address or any links. If the addresses are suspicious, the emails have misspellings and poor grammar or are from unknown senders, delete them.

Corptek Solutions supports Fort Worth businesses with cybersecurity solutions and technology solutions during these unprecedented times. Learn more about our technology solutions by contacting us today.