The global pandemic, it turns out, is not just one of human health; cyber health is also at stake, as the number of cyberattacks has exploded since February. Most cybersecurity experts cite the reasons being two-fold. First, attackers are using COVID-19 as bait to mislead employees and consumers; and second, the large number of professionals now working from home has increased the risk of removable media passing malware from home to office.
The severity of the cyber pandemic started to unfold in March, when Deloitte’s Cyber Intelligence Centre reported a spike in phishing attacks, malicious spam, and ransomware attacks that use COVID-19 to bait users. This has resulted in a greater number of infected personal computers, USB flash drives, and smartphones – leaving organizations large and small incredibly vulnerable. Many of these attacks attempt to trick employees to download ransomware disguised as legitimate COVID-19 applications.
400% Increase in Cyberattack Complaints
The following month, in April, the FBI reported that its Cyber Division was receiving 4,000 complaints per day about cyberattacks – representing a 400% increase from what was being reported prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
Also in April, VMware Carbon Black reported that ransomware attacks, as might be expected, were also on the rise, increasing 148% from February to March alone.
While the large-scale ransomware attacks – such as the ones that recently crippled Garmin and Canon – are the headline makers, the healthcare industry, unfortunately, has seen its unfair share of ransomware events.
Medical Facilities Prone to Attacks
Medical facilities are easy targets, as they have been operationally overwhelmed by the coronavirus crisis. This makes them highly vulnerable to cyber criminals, who know that access to health records is more important than ever, leading cyber attackers to believe their victims will quickly pay ransom demands.
That is, indeed, what is happening. In the first half on this year, according to a July report released by Emsisoft, at least 41 hospitals and healthcare providers said they were impacted by successful ransomware attacks. Emsisoft predicts the number of attacks will only worsen.
A Shift Away from Individuals to Major Corporations
More recently, in August, INTERPOL released a report on the impact of COVID-19 on cybercrime, in which it stated that cyberattacks have shifted away from individuals and small businesses to major corporations, governments, and critical infrastructure.
“Cybercriminals are developing and boosting their attacks at an alarming pace, exploiting the fear and uncertainty caused by the unstable social and economic situation created by COVID-19,” said Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General.
Furthermore, the report stated: “With organizations and businesses rapidly deploying remote systems and networks to support staff working from home, criminals are also taking advantage of increased security vulnerabilities to steal data, generate profits, and cause disruption.”
Preventing Infections from Removable Media
While we can’t help you minimize the cyberattacks that come via the cloud, we can help prevent physical attacks that result when an employee plugs a removable media device – such as an external hard drive or USB flash drive – into a computer port. We offer port locking devices for every type of port, whether USB, HDMI, DVI, or even SD and fiber optic.
Considering that it costs only four bucks to lock a USB port, four bucks to lock an HDMI port, and seven bucks to lock a fiber optic port, we wonder why any organization would not include physical port protection in its cybersecurity plan.
A port without a port lock is pretty much like not wearing a mask these days. By doing so, you expose yourself – and your network – to all sorts of nasty things.