COVID-19 creates security vulnerabilities causing a quantum leap in global cyber attacks

GLOBAL – The COVID-19 pandemic has created new vulnerabilities in the information technology security of many organizations and as a result fueling an unprecedented rise in cyber-attacks globally.

According to a report by Check Point, there were less than 5,000 phishing attacks related to COVID-19 in February, the number however spiked to over 200,000 towards the end of April 2020 as the pandemic gripped economies world over.

From March to April alone, according to a mid-year report from Check Point, there was a 34 per cent increase in the rate of cyberattacks.

The rise resulted from consumers stepping up their purchases online to working remotely.

According to Check Point, carrying out activities at home using private connections on relatively insecure Internet opened up vulnerabilities on remote login, thus making them easy prey for hackers.

Check Point observed new ransomware that cybercriminals covertly use in extracting data in large quantities from their target before encrypting them.

Victimes were then put in vulnerable positions, asked to pay ransoms or their data be leaked.

Most of the attacks that were carried out during this pandemic were delivered through email; making mass spam campaign the primary mode of attack.

With the increase in the volume of work-from-home personnel, a significant number of the workforce is now connected to the Internet for almost the whole day.

Connecting devices to the Internet while working from home is oftentimes unsecured, exposing them to vulnerabilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not just caused a disruption in the global order, it has also changed the scope of cybersecurity and threats, Check Point noted.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, there appears to have been a change in the behavioural pattern of cybercriminals, a development that has led to a wave of COVID-19-related cyberattacks.

his is however not a phenomenon peculiar to this current pandemic as cybercriminals have in the past explored global occurrences like this to exploit victims.

Global disasters, such as the outbreak of the Zika Virus and the Indian Ocean tsunami that happened in 2004, are cases in point.

To protect them from these increased attacks, flashpoint noted that companies are now looking into deploying collaborative software, while implementing a VPN infrastructure.

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