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Coronavirus scams are sending cybersecurity spending soaring


Coronavirus scams are sending cybersecurity spending soaring

The coronavirus crisis has locked down millions of people in countries around the world and shuttered a huge number of businesses. It’s caused companies to send employees home, from where they’re expected to work remotely, utilizing technology – and has opened up the opportunity for cybercriminals to capitalize on the new normal.

Vast numbers of big-money cybercrime heists have taken place during the last few months, linked to coronavirus and capitalizing on the fact that hastily-introduced work from home procedures have several loopholes that phishing attacks and brute force incursions can crack open.

But business is trying to fight back. After an initial flurry of quick fixes, they’re adapting to the likely future path of work and putting in longer-lasting measures. And that costs money.

Big spenders for better safety

Nearly seven in ten businesses have said they plan to increase the amount they’re spending on cybersecurity, according to a recent survey. In 2017, companies worldwide as well as individual users spent $34 billion on cybersecurity protection. That was forecast to be $42 billion in 2020 – but that was before the coronavirus hit.

It’s a boon for those keeping businesses safe online, and a necessary measure given the increased risks from working remotely. The future of work looks to be moving away from employees gathered in the same physical offices, and instead all working from home on company-issued devices.

That’s beneficial for convenience and cuts down on the time workers will spend commuting, but it does open up a lot of potential points of leverage for cybersecurity experts. Man in the middle attacks and ransomware heists have all seen increases.

One of the key areas targeted, alongside the now usual ransomware attacks, is cloud services, where companies are hosting valuable data for convenience. That was already a significant area of attack in 2019, according to pre-existing data collated by cybercrime monitors Trustwave, and is likely to become more popular as a way in to systems given the coronavirus.

That’s borne out by data gathered by Check Point, another cybersecurity analyst company, which shows that 71% of cybersecurity professionals noticed the number of attacks launched against their company had increased since the coronavirus outbreak began. 

The most dangerous threat was phishing, which 55% of respondents said was an issue for them, followed by malicious websites purporting to offer information or advice about the pandemic. IT professionals also noticed that malware and ransomware attacks increased. 

The perfect storm

“In some ways, these results are unsurprising. Cybercriminals will always seek to capitalize on the latest trends to try and boost the success rates of attacks, and the coronavirus pandemic has created a truly perfect storm,” wrote Check Point. “A global news event is fostering uncertainty and fear, leaving employees increasingly vulnerable to targeted phishing campaigns and malicious websites claiming to offer help and advice.”

Cybersecurity has long been an issue that companies have invested a lot of money into, but the pressing nature of coronavirus and the way in which it has been targeted as a potential route to making money is showing it to be more important than ever. 

The issue has been identified and the weaknesses are beginning to be spotted. What’s happening next isn’t good news for the rank and file workers trying to navigate the new working norms in the aftermath of the coronavirus, but it does seem like an opportunity for those providing protection to companies to promote their wares in the most pressing way.

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