Lessons from COVID-19 Cyberattacks: Where do we go next?

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By Zakir Hussain- Director, BD Software Distribution

The covid19 pandemic teaches us that we need to be prepared for the future – expect the unexpected. The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus caused a huge impact on the health as well as the economy of the world. In a similar sense, a cyber pandemic can also spread with much more speed and over a much larger magnitude. The impact of this can be worse than the current situation. However, the best we can do is learn from this experience and be equipped with the necessary precautionary measures to avoid such a situation in the future.

Cyber criminals have been getting smarter everyday with the growing digitization, and are using high end technology to strategise their attacks in a much sophisticated manner. They have been taking advantage of the panic created by the pandemic and feeding on the people’s fear by attacking them in the guise of covid related content. Many people have shifted to remote working as alternative, and in doing so, are not well equipped with the necessary tools and security softwares to protect themselves from an attack or a breach.

Many of these phishing campaigns have been targeted at hospitals, manufacturers of medical equipment, and health insurance companies. Although these entities have security softwares in place, it was rather easy for the attackers to get through to the systems because they posed as important organisations that everyone could easily trust. The human mind is very easy to exploit, and under circumstances like this pandemic where there is only fear, stress and financial crises, they become even more vulnerable to cybersecurity risks.

Most of the phishing attacks happening during the pandemic have been carried out via emails – a platform where majority of the population is active currently and its use has been extensive. Today everyone is connected via the internet for an endless number of purposes – from work to entertainment. All of these devices are mostly unsecured on the network, and can be exploited easily and extract sensitive information.

Ransomware and malware seems to be the most popular threat that attackers are intending to carry out. This means that they still haven’t moved on to newer technologies as these approaches have proven to be successful for them, only leveraging the tactics with newer technologies. In this case, we need to study and analyse the patterns of these attacks using new age technology and tools, and derive safety measures from them to prevent actors from entering any system.

The key to being prepared for various threats in this highly interconnected and globalized digital landscape is building efficient cyber resilience – to be able to comprehend, respond to and deal with and recover from a crisis under similar circumstances like today, is highly important. All organisations and individuals need to adopt security tools and maintain cyber hygiene. Along with being prepared, organisations must also implement a risk or data breach response plan that is capable of analysing the patterns and predicting an attack beforehand, of the known threats as well as the unknowns.


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