Cybersecurity in the Post Covid-19 World
Cyberattacks happen around the clock every single day, and we rarely hear about the majority of them. During Covid-19, cyberattacks skyrocketed at an alarming rate, and have been on the rise ever since. Outside of 2016-2017’s high volume of breaches, 2020-2021 was one of the worst periods of cyber breaches to date, taking a huge economic toll on businesses and organizations of all types. This makes it even more imperative in the post-pandemic era to stay vigilant and up-to-date on all available data security protection options.
To truly understand the impact that Covid-19 had on cybersecurity, you must first have a clear understanding of what cybersecurity is. If you are already well-versed in cybersecurity, and you want to get right into the data and analytics of the post-Covid environment, feel free to jump to other sections via the links below:
- What is Cybersecurity?
- How have Cybersecurity and Cyber attacks changed in recent years?
- Type of attacks we saw during Covid-19
- What are the Cybersecurity trends post Covid-19?
- Increased protection
- Other Cybersecurity methods to consider
- Potential threats to watch
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. These attacks are typically targeted at accessing, changing or destroying sensitive information, extorting money, or interrupting normal business practices. Cybersecurity is crucial to businesses that handle sensitive information because, unfortunately, cyber attacks happen every day.
There are various types of cyber attacks to lookout for:
- Malware – Malware is the generic term for malicious software including viruses, spyware, worms, and ransomware. Malware can get inside of a system network by taking advantage of vulnerabilities. This could be as a result of a user clicking on a malicious link or attachment in an email after which the malicious software installs itself into a system.
- Viruses – Viruses are created solely for the purpose of damaging the information system of users. Viruses have the capabilities of replicating across the infected system and the network on which the system resides. Viruses are often the mechanism by which machines are infected for other nefarious purposes, such as gaining administrative control of the entire network.
- Spyware – This type of malware spies on the computing habits of a user, typically silently, without the user knowing it. It can enter the system when a user downloads software from a malicious website and installs it on their information system. Spyware collects vital information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, or bank details and transmits the stolen data to hackers.
- Trojans – Trojans are malware programs that deceive users by looking harmless or important when in reality they can delete essential files, steal data, and even grant unauthorized access to hackers.
- Ransomware – This is probably one of the most commonly known types of malware. Ransomware encrypts the critical files of a system, notifies the users about the attack, and then demands payment in return for decrypting the locked files. The main primary objective of ransomware is monetary payment, though sometimes theft of the data itself, as well.
- Phishing – Phishing is another very commonly employed cyberattack that is email-borne. This entails users clicking on a malicious link or attachment which downloads malware into the information system stealing private information of the user.
How Have Cybersecurity and Cyber Attacks Changed In Recent Years ?
Covid-19 not only impacted the way we went about our daily lives, but also had a huge impact on cybersecurity and cyber attacks. As employees rushed to adjust to working remotely, tempting opportunities opened up for hackers and bots. Cyber thieves suddenly found it even easier to swindle data out of unsuspecting remote employees. Many of these employees did not have the proper training and knowledge of cybersecurity before they were allowed to work at home. The vulnerabilities were more profound in companies without large IT departments. For example, in 2020 Cybersecurity Ventures stated that more than half of all cyberattacks were committed against small to midsize businesses (SMBs).
However, these companies are not the only ones under attack. In fact, the healthcare industry is among the largest industries targeted by bad actors during the pandemic, experiencing a 94% increase in ransomware between 2020 and 2021. After healthcare, financial services and retail were the next most likely to become prey to hackers. While retail has always been prone to attacks due to lower attention to security protocols, one would expect the financial services industry to have a more robust security infrastructure. However, the rush to move hosted services into the cloud and the fast pace of that transition made financial services vulnerable to attacks before cloud-based security was fully understood.
Not only have cyberattacks increased throughout Covid-19, but the nature of those attacks have shifted.
Type of attacks we saw during Covid-19
Prior to the pandemic, Deloitte states that around 20% of cyberattacks utilized previously unseen malware or methods. During the pandemic this proportion rose to 35%. Remote work created new challenges for all companies but particularly for small and medium-sized businesses. The SMB’s were not sufficiently prepared for the surge in sophisticated cyber crime, especially as many organizations were opposed to remote work prior to the pandemic and therefore did not have security protocols in place.
Hackers have upped their game to capitalize on the new shift by companies to working remotely. During Covid-19, they developed new malware that attacked and infiltrated systems. Phishing schemes were also prevalent, allowing hackers to gather information by exploiting new remote workers who were not trained on the differences between safe and malicious links.
What Cybersecurity Trends Are We Seeing Post Covid-19?
The world has changed, and cybersecurity needs to catch up. As we continue to enter the emerging all-digital lifestyle and “work anywhere” business environment, we will need to become proactive with security plans. Although increased security measures can be costly, ignoring the threats can be even more expensive in the long run. Businesses that do become victims not only have to incur the cost of data recovery, but can also suffer from consumer distrust. This is why it has become even more important to learn and select what works best for your company.
A report created by PwC stated that in 2022 over 65% of organizations expect to grow their cyber budget compared to previous years. It’s easier than ever for attackers to zero in on their targets, which means that it’s now imperative that we take charge of the standards the digital world has forced upon us. Whether this starts with doubling down on training or updating which encryption software that is utilized, businesses have seen the need for the increased spend in return for peace of mind and less payment in the future to combat any attacks.
Increasing your cybersecurity budget will enhance your ability to respond effectively to security threats. However, increasing your budget will only be truly impactful if you create a defense strategy for your information. There are numerous methods available for fortifying your organization’s defense. While this abundance of options may appear bewildering, it’s essential to recognize that failing to secure a well-thought-out plan can have far-reaching repercussions for both you and your data.
Other Cybersecurity Methods to Consider
In addition to the extra protection companies are implementing, businesses must also understand how to effectively deploy emerging technologies as new solutions. Here are a few trends:
- Secure Access Service Edge (SASE): Gartner expects that “by 2024, at least 40% of enterprises will have explicit strategies to adopt SASE, up from less than 1% at year-end 2018.” As organizations adopt cloud application services, many have begun to learn that cybersecurity and network security aren’t simple. SASE provides a method for securely connecting edge devices and protecting the data they exchange. SASE has an updated approach vs. traditional network security when it comes to remote access and cloud resources.
- Create cybersecurity awareness: With the rapid change to work environments across the globe, security must now be part of your corporate culture. Having to quickly adapt to this lifestyle of cloud based management and VPN’s has forced a gap in the knowledge needed to maintain the high security standards that virtual and cloud management is capable of. Creating a cyberattack response plan and applying robust cybersecurity best practices can make all the difference in your organization.
- Decentralized Approach: This type of security is more of a type of ‘help yourself’ approach. While there may be corporate security policies implemented, sometimes those do not cover some of your team’s extra needs. Your team should have the power to make some of their own technology decisions to enhance protection. This makes it everyone’s responsibility. While this includes more training and policies, it will give you the freedom to take full control of your data and information.
Potential Threats to Watch
Meanwhile, a new arsenal of threats is being developed with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence. It’s hard to predict where AI will lead, since the commercial application of large language models is an emerging technology. Here are some areas where we might see new AI-based threats:
- Phone Bots: ChatGPT might be storming the internet, but cybercriminals are using AI to launch more sophisticated attacks worldwide. AI has the ability to quickly adapt to changing environments, taking on different forms, making them harder to detect and defend against. AI phone bots have become more intelligent, simulating voices and speech, and could trick a user into thinking a call has come from their boss, or their CEO.
- Adaptive Phishing Emails: AI has also proven to send highly convincing phishing emails that may seem to be from trusted sources, making it easier to trick users into clicking on malicious links.
As noted earlier in this article, the healthcare sector has been particularly vulnerable to these threats. Studies show the healthcare industry is expected to experience more cyberattacks in 2023. Since the onset of the pandemic, phishing incidents have increased by 220%, and were the most common type of cyberattack within healthcare organizations. This affected 81% of healthcare companies, where 60% of those attacks were ransomware that targeted patient data. The remaining was focused on taking over systems and disrupting operations. The additional developing threat of Artificial Intelligence makes implementing stronger security protocols even more urgent.
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About NetLib Security
NetLib Security has spent the past 20+ years developing a powerful, patented solution that starts by setting up a formidable offense for every environment where your data resides: physical, virtual and cloud. Our platform simplifies the process while ensuring high levels of security.
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Data breaches are expensive. Security does not have to be.
NetLib Security works with government agencies, healthcare organizations, small to large enterprises, financial services, credit card processors, distributors, and resellers to provide a flexible data security solution that meets their evolving needs. To learn more or request a free evaluation visit us at www.netlibsecurity.com.