Are we dealing with an epidemic of cybersecurity threats?

by Josh Biggs in Tech on 6th April 2021

No one is any longer surprised to hear about cybersecurity attacks when they open their TVs, scroll through a social media platform news feed, or read a newspaper. But the recent trends show that the global pandemic has triggered an enormous increase in breached and hacked data. Coronavirus sent shockwaves across the digital security sector, touching both individuals and organizations. Security research shows that most businesses have poor cybersecurity practices in place, and huge amounts of unprotected data, making them vulnerable to attacks and breaches. Everyone must switch to the best security practices and learn how to prevent an attack. 

The pandemic forced organizations to use cloud-based platforms and rely on a remote workforce. The advent of 5G connected devices more than they were before, and somehow the cybersecurity industry wasn’t ready to welcome all these changes. The recent events show that cyber specialists have plenty of work to do if they want to fight criminals. Remote workers are now the main target for cybercriminals because they lack the needed tools to protect their data. And because everyone relies on cloud technology now, it has become overused and left room for breaches. 

Cybersecurity facts everyone should know in 2021

Gartner states that the global information security market will reach $140.4 billion by 2022 because companies improve their defenses against digital threats. But with 95% of breaches caused by human error, it’s almost impossible to think that they will manage to stop cybercrimes if they don’t focus on educating their employees. With the latest changes in the work methods, 68% of entrepreneurs think cybersecurity risks are higher than before the pandemic. 

Only in the first six months of 2020, data breaches exposed over 36 billion records, 45% of cyberattacks being the result of hacking, 17% involved malware, and 22% were caused by phishing. The average cost of a data breach episode was $3.86 million last year, and the victims took around 207 days to identify one. But considering that 64% of Americans never checked if they were the target of cybercrime, we cannot know the extent of cyberattacks. 

shallow focus photography of computer codes

So, are we facing a cybersecurity epidemic?

Data shows that the digital world is heading towards a cybersecurity epidemic, and there are no solutions effective enough to contain or prevent it. 

Here are some of the organizations that experienced data breaches in 2020. 

– Twitter was the target of a cyberattack that breached 130 accounts of past presidents and Elon Musk. The data breach gained attackers $121,000 in Bitcoin. 

– Marriott also experienced a security breach that affected over 5.2 million guests. 

– Landry’s announced a malware attack that stole clients’ payment card information. 

– An attack disclosed a customer support database from Microsoft that included information like email addresses, support case details, and IP addresses of 280 million clients. 

– Estee Lauder faced a similar cyberattack when cybercriminals exposed 440 million customer records. Luckily, there was no payment or sensitive information attached to the data. 

– COVID-19 contact tracing apps were also hackers’ favorite targets in 2020 because some apps ask the user to provide them access to their contact list to complete the installation. Also, they also require access to the user’s IP address, password, and device location for the apps to function. Therefore, people expose themselves to privacy risks when they use a coronavirus contact tracing app because only a couple of them use a centralized and secure storage system. Experts created a tool that checks the covid tracing app the users install to identify any malware or private information leakages. Everyone using a COVId-19 tracing app should also install this tool to detect possible security threats in time. 

– Zoom gained tremendous popularity in 2020, so it’s no surprise that hackers considered it the perfect target. Cybercriminals stole the credentials from over 500,000 accounts and posted them on sale on the dark web. 

The most significant issues in the present digital security

Because companies were forced to change their work patterns overnight, many became vulnerable to security threats. Here are the risks the pandemic has brought to light. 

IT infrastructure isn’t ready for global remote working

Over the recent years, remote working was a viable option for many specialists. Still, the present situation is different because it forced over half of the planet to work from home. It’s not hard to understand that the IT infrastructure wasn’t ready for it. There are many security implications organizations must consider before switching to remote working. 

It’s challenging to detect anomalies in a unique scenario

Cybersecurity’s main tenet is identifying abnormal behaviors, but many fail to do it because the current system is full of anomalies, and not all signal a cybersecurity threat. On the other hand, hackers rely on the stress and confusion the pandemic caused to exploit vulnerabilities. 

Software is created for convenience

Most software created during the pandemic had the purpose of solving a problem rather than focusing on the security risks the users may experience. Zoom is the proof pandemic-made tools are developed for ease of use rather than safety. However, the breaches exposed above should serve as a reminder to individuals and companies to ensure they use only software that guarantees robust security. 

Band-aid approaches facilitate cyberattacks

Over 50% of the people who switched to remote working think that the global workforce isn’t ready and adequately educated for the change because they’re not aware of the security threats they expose themselves to when they rely on the Internet to solve tasks. The situation is even more challenging when more individuals conduct activities online in the same environment. When more people use the same network, there is a higher risk of being the victim of a digital threat. 

Also, organizations had to allow employees to use personal equipment as they weren’t prepared for the change, and while the approach is understandable, the security risk is higher

Conclusion

We are living in an unprecedented period, and even if we don’t want to believe the pandemic spread to the online medium, the facts show that hackers are ready to take advantage of our lack of preparedness. 

Categories: Tech