COVID-19 has taken its toll on much of what we once thought of as normal. We went from crowded concert halls to stadiums with only cardboard spectators in sight. From handshakes and hugs to masks and hand sanitizer. But even more than our new everyday normal, COVID has affected many of our lives’ lesser noticed areas. One example of this? Cybersecurity.
Many of us haven’t considered the impact COVID has had on cybersecurity because—well, mostly, it’s not our job. We leave it to the tech experts that run our networks and keep all the cords behind our desks connected. But the reality is that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on cybersecurity, and it’s something we all need to be paying attention to because, as it turns out, we might be the easy target.
The Impacts of the Pandemic on Business Cybersecurity
As the world fights COVID-19, cybercriminals are capitalizing on it. From spikes in phishing scams to unsecured remote home offices, hackers are finding every opportunity to get your data.
COVID Domains Dominate
Every day there are new website domains using terms such as COVID and coronavirus in their URLs. Unfortunately, most of them are scams with the main purpose of defrauding as many as individuals as possible. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has received more than 170,000 consumer complaints about coronavirus-related fraud. Even worse, many of these sites are ripe with malware, ready to infect the network of any user who mistakenly stumbles upon them. So, beware the next time you see a URL or ad pointing to a website promising a miracle cure for COVID-19—it might just be the gateway for ransomware to infect your system.
Phishing is Back in Business
Okay, to be fair, phishing never left. It’s always been a big hit with hackers, but COVID has only heightened its popularity. Cybercriminals are seizing the opportunity to find new ways into our inboxes, baiting us with any and all COVID-19 related news. It might be a download supposedly detailing ways you can stay safe from the virus. Or a link that will allow you to donate money to a COVID fund. Many times it looks as if it’s coming from world authorities, such as the WHO or the CDC. Whatever it is, be on the lookout. If you receive an email that is related to COVID, don’t click anything! Instead, go manually type it in yourself. It might seem like more work in the short run, but in the long run, you might just have prevented you and your company from getting infected with malware.
Cyber Teams are Shrinking
Another effect COVID has had on cybersecurity is a lowered ability to detect and prevent malicious attacks. Many businesses have had to deal with downsizing because of the virus, and tech teams have been no exception. With less (or zero) resources focused on cybersecurity and keeping your network safe, the easier it is for criminals to find a neglected door in.
The other possibility is that you were able to retain your tech team, but they’ve become overwhelmed with new projects and tasks that they now have less time to focus on managing your network’s security. They might be continuing to iron out the kinks of a fully-remote workforce. Or are dealing with Zoom issues they never had to worry about before. Either way, the less time they are spending on security, the less secure your business will be.
If either of these issues is the case for your business, it might be time to look for a technology consultant. By working with a managed service provider, you don’t have to worry about hiring someone in-house. But you’ll still receive the support you need to feel confident in the security of your systems.
Disaster Recovery Plans Dictate the Future
Last but not least, COVID has changed many businesses’ outlook on cybersecurity when it comes to disaster recovery plans. Organizations have become more security-minded in their planning—especially when it comes to remote work. We all witnessed (and possibly experienced) the scramble in March when many companies moved their operations to work-from-home. It was obviously unexpected, and many businesses were not prepared for the security challenges remote work poses. From setting up VPNs or virtual desktops to acquiring hardware and expanding use of the cloud, companies saw what was needed and are now planning even more for the future. Even industries that are not planning on working remotely forever are integrating remote security plans into their business continuity and disaster recovery plans for the future.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on cybersecurity, and it’s something we all need to be aware of. We need to be on the lookout for COVID-related scams that are hosting a cyber virus in themselves. We need to be ensuring that our business is equipped with resources to secure our networks and patch up any holes so criminals can’t find their way in. And we need to be thinking about the future of work and what that looks like for our businesses and our security. We’ve all banded together against COVID; it’s time we do the same against cyber criminals.