It’s been a challenging year for everyone as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to wreak havoc. Cybercriminals preying on the fears about the virus are profiting from a spate of ransomware and phishing attacks on the public and businesses. Criminals are also capitalizing on the new work-from-home policies, exploiting the security vulnerabilities of ill-prepared businesses and employees.
Cyber-attacks and their cost to businesses
A recent Robert Walters and VacancySoft study revealed that UK businesses face approximately 65,000 security attacks daily and 4,500 of these attacks are successful—but this number could be much higher since the start of the pandemic. The study also indicated that the cost of data breaches is about £2.28 million per instance.
How ransomware and phishing affect businesses
This malicious software is a fast-growing security hazard affecting businesses and government institutions. This kind of malware infects a user’s computer, and once a system is compromised, the user is locked out and cannot regain access until the perpetrators are paid a ransom. In some cases, if payment is not received, the data is made public or sold on the dark web.
Earlier this year, a British research company preparing to start COVID-19 vaccine trials faced an attack from a ransomware hacking group. The hackers released personal medical records to the public after the company refused to pay the ransom.
The shift to remote working sparked an increase in the use of email for many businesses and their remote employees. Cybercriminals have used this as an opportunity to scam persons with phishing emails either offering financial support, asking for charity donations, or urging the purchase of personal protective items such as gloves and masks.
Additionally, a Webroot survey found that over one in five UK employees has received COVID-19 phishing emails, indicating the frequency of this type of attack during the pandemic.
5 effective measures to help defend against cyber attacks
Though there is no foolproof solution, entrepreneurs can implement effective security hygiene measures to build a defence against cyber-attacks. Here are a few tips: Here are a few tips:
Network traffic should be continuously monitored so that breaches can be identified and resolved speedily. It is also a good idea to monitor employees using the network as well. Keep an eye on what they download and the sites they visit, because if a user’s computer gets infected with malware, the company’s network is at risk.
Use a VPN
One way to keep sensitive information out hackers’ reach is by using a Virtual Private network (VPN). A VPN acts as a secure tunnel between your device and the internet. It essentially keeps you anonymous while online sending and receiving information. It is crucial that employees have this app on their devices to ensure the security of company information and customer data.
With the rising threat of ransomware attacks, it is imperative to implement a routine backup strategy that stores extra copies of critical business data offline or in a cloud. That way, if a malware compromises the system, you can retrieve your data stored elsewhere. This backup regimen ensures business continuity.
Enabling this added layer of protection provides greater protection than using a password as the only authentication to access a device or account. The advantage of two-factor authentication is that if a password gets stolen, hackers may find it challenging to access a system without the second requirement.
Email protection is paramount at a time when many employees are working remotely. An effective scanner can help detect malware and block you from opening a malicious email.