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Cyberattacks During the Pandemic: How to Protect your Data

Posted by Sophie Ashwood | 28-May-2020 15:03:11

Keeping your data secure can be difficult, especially with the rise of targeted phishing campaigns, and now due to the pandemic, security officials in the UK and USA have revealed there's been an increase in the number of cybercriminals and other malicious groups online, exploiting the COVID-19 outbreak.

An advisory published on 8th April by the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) has shown that cybercriminals and Advanced Persistent Threat groups are targeting organisations and users with a range of ransomware and malware.

These types of scams include emails containing malware that appear to be from Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as others, claiming to offer products to fight the pandemic.

However, agencies have also detected cybercriminals are scanning for vulnerabilities in software and remote working tools due to the rapid increase in people working from home during the pandemic. This includes exploiting the increased use of video conferencing tools, using phishing emails with attachments named as genuine providers, to trick users into downloading malicious software and files.

As many organisations were not prepared for their staff to work from home, not all devices used for remote work have the right security or tools to detect and protect your organisation from an attack - and with the increased use of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), organisations are lacking the tools to prevent their data from being breached.

Director of Operations at the NCSC, Paul Chichester has said, "Malicious cyber actors are adjusting their tactics to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic".

Organisations are letting their guard down in response to the pandemic and cybercriminals are using this to infiltrate your business, which is why your users need to be trained on the warning signs of phishing scams, and your organisation should utilise tools such as Endpoint Detection & Response that detects and analyses unusual activities, as not all cyberattacks will make themselves known to you.

The CISA's Assistant Director for Cybersecurity, Bryan Ware, has stated, "As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, bad actors are using these difficult times to exploit and take advantage of the public and business. Our partnerships with the NCSC and industry have played a critical role in our ability to track these threats and respond."

“We urge everyone to remain vigilant to these threats, be on the lookout for suspicious emails and look to trusted sources for information and updates regarding COVID-19. We are all in this together and collectively we can help defend against these threats."

The NCSC have said they expect the frequency and severity of these cyberattacks will increase over the coming months.

What can you do?

- Train your Users
Providing the right training for your staff on how to detect phishing scams is a quick and easy way to help protect your data, especially as these scams can be through emails, text messages and even through websites. Keeping your users up to date on the latest threats helps keep them alert and aware, and will make them think twice before downloading suspicious attachments.

Using tools such as fake phishing emails is a great way to see how your users will react to a real phishing attack - how many users ignore the email, how many download or click links, and how many give away their details - when you have this data, you'll be able to see if you need to increase your user awareness training, and as users are working from home, they'll have to use their instincts as they won't be able to follow how their colleagues react.

- Endpoint Detection & Response
With EDR, you can gain real-time visibility on your endpoints. Any unusual activity will be alerted to your security team, allowing them to investigate further. Unlike traditional antivirus software that simply identifies and quarantines files suspected of known Malware, Endpoint Detection and Response is designed to look for and record system activity on your endpoints. This allows real-time visibility on any unusual activity, whether it's known or a new type of malicious code. It helps to detect whether your endpoints have been infiltrated without you knowing.

- Mobile Device Management
Mobile Device Management solutions let your users work on any device and apps they choose, whilst keeping your data protected. MDM enables you to take control of your devices whether you manage a specific OS, multiple device types or a mix between corporate devices and BYOD. These solutions give you the visibility you need, easy management and security for your iOS, Android and Windows devices.

- Penetration Testing
If you already have security solutions set up, when was the last time you tested them to make sure there weren't any vulnerabilities? Penetration Testing, also known as ethical hacking or pen testing, lets you effectively test and validate your organisation's security position. It's an authorised simulated cyberattack on your IT infrastructure used to evaluate the security of your networks and applications and look for vulnerabilities. Having the right security tools for your organisation is step 1, but without testing those security tools, you cannot be 100% confident that your organisation will be protected, able to detect, defend or respond to an attack effectively.

- Email Protection
Integrated email protection solutions can help your organisation stay safe and protected against cyberthreats. Security risks to your emails are constantly evolving, which is why you should invest in email protection software that'll defend against both known and new threats. Email attacks come in a range of forms from viruses to targeted phishing campaigns, with each attack becoming harder to detect than the last. Having an email protection solution that includes the latest updates on current and emerging security threats helps to minimise risk to your data.

- Manage Your Passwords 
Ensuring best practice on password management is imperative to keeping your data and assets secure. 

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How can we help?

AZTech provide a multi-layered approach to cybersecurity, we can help you get the right tools for your organisation. One size does not fit all, which is why we take the time to understand your organisation, your objectives and your challenges.

We empower our clients to focus on their core business, while we focus on your IT - we can provide training to your users, monitor systems and help protect your organisation from cyberthreats with the right tools.

We offer a bespoke service, so you get the right tools to help your organisation flourish and keep business continuity.

If you'd like to discuss our security solutions, would like to find out more about ways you can protect your data against cybercrime, or just want some help, please get in touch by calling us on 01908 571 510 or clicking the button below.

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Topics: IT Security, cybersecurity, cybercrime

Written by Sophie Ashwood

Marketing Executive at AZTech IT Solutions

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