No vaccine for cyber attacks

Not only did 2020 bring a COVID pandemic, it brought a cyber pandemic too, and both have spilled over into 2021.

Forbes reminded us that cyber crime often spikes around major events and unrest, when criminals take advantage of peoples’ fears and uncertainty.

Cyber criminals are just the same, and attacks have never been as frequent and hard-hitting as at the start of the first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020, when a 400% rise in cyber attacks on companies, government and individuals was recorded.

Hackers targeted the full gamut of organisations, from small business to multinationals and global agencies such as the World Health Organisation. The WHO reported a five-fold increase in cyber attacks directed at its staff, and email scams that targeted the public, who were particularly vulnerable to phishing scams as the pandemic was breaking.

For those companies who had robust cyber security measures in place, the shift to work-from-home didn’t carry the same risk as those without.

Work from home risk

The sudden need for people to work from home meant that quickly installed IT setups often neglected basic security protocols.

Small and medium-size companies turned out to be the most vulnerable in the remote workspace, as they were either slow to put cyber security measures in place, or simply didn’t have the resources to do it, and had to pay the price of being easy targets. Hackers were on standby to make opportunistic attacks on all newcomers to the work-from-home model.

Ransomware attacks continue to arrive by email, SMS, messaging platforms and via social engineering, and the reason they’re so convincing is that they appear legitimate by offering links, messages and attachments from colleagues and familiar sites or sources.

Stolen personal details can then become a targeted and effective ransomware attack or man-in-the-middle breach.

Over the past year, ransomware and other cyber attacks have continued apace, but companies have also realised the need for better security and are making use of straightforward methods such as VPS hosting and backup that includes cyber security.

But leading information source CSO reports that 94% of malware is delivered by email, and more than 80% of reported security incidents result from phishing, still!

4 ways to reduce your business risk

With no vaccine for cyber attacks, you can protect yourself to a large extent by:

  1. Training your staff in cyber security protocol: There are plenty of online and email courses that raise awareness in phishing, ransomware and other malware. Basic staff training in cyber security is a crucial first step in protecting your company network. It only takes one careless click to put all devices on the network at risk.
  2. Using a virtual private server: With a VPS, remote computers are linked to the company’s colleagues and servers by secure and encrypted connections.
  3. Not using personal computers for work: Personal computers typically aren’t configured and protected by the company, and therefore pose a security risk.
  4. Using a backup system that includes cyber protection: Backup alone is no longer good enough for dealing with modern cyber risks; cloud backup now needs built-in security, such as antivirus, malware protection and patch management, to be 100% effective.

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