No one needs a reminder of the enormous toll that the COVID-19 pandemic is inflicting on lives around the globe. It is affecting our physical and mental health, our economic prospects, and our connections to our loved ones.
But as a cyber protection company, Acronis began raising alarm bells two months ago about a lesser-known side effect of the contagion: a flood of new cyber attacks committed by criminals who see financial opportunity in the confusion, fear, and drastically new work habits that the pandemic has thrust upon much of the world.
Now our global network of Acronis Cyber Protection Operations Centers has detected a spike in malware attacks that confirm those concerns.
The fear and confusion present an opening – in the form of eagerness for new information – that makes phishing scams more successful. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen many malicious emails purporting to offer safety tips from the World Health Organization or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that are quickly opened by frightened, unwary users. Once opened, however, their attachments and links introduce ransomware or other attacks that can then spread throughout the system.
The massive shift to work from home (WFH) opens other doors for cybercriminals, as users increasingly move some of their work to personal devices that are outside of their employer’s umbrella of cyber protection: anti-malware measures, patching to close known vulnerabilities and regular backups.
Acronis Cyber Protection Operation Centers (CPOCs) constantly monitor our partners, customers, and a battery of outside sources to detect and analyze the broad universe of cyberthreats. The data and threat analysis of the past few weeks has uncovered a troubling upward tick in cybercrime, many of which we attribute to the new realities of a pandemic-afflicted world. Here are two telling statistics:
1. Ransomware threats have steadily trended upward, notably on weekends, likely resulting from bored, isolated employees occupying their Saturdays and Sunday with work, and shifting more of that work onto unprotected devices
2. Cryptojacking attacks, in which secretly installed malware drains computing and other resources from victims’ workstations to mine cryptocurrency for profit, are also spiking. We attribute this to the resurgence of the value of cryptocurrencies caused by the economic chaos of the pandemic, and a new pool of unattended machines that now run in business facilities that are mostly empty.
Keeping individuals and organizations safe has become more challenging as WFH becomes full-time for many. While you may have some experience with cyber protection for this environment, now is a good time to review the best practices Acronis has codified to secure your remote workforce and critical data:
No one can predict how long the current crisis will last, but two things are certain. One, cybercriminals will never miss a chance to exploit a tragedy for their own gain, as our ongoing monitoring and analysis of the global threat environment reveal. Two, we are likely to see some long-term, permanent changes to many of our pre-pandemic work, social and home behaviors and practices.
The good news is that any work you do in the coming months to adapt your cyber protection posture to today's crisis-driven challenges will pay off long-term when the worst of the pandemic has passed.
Reference: Article provided by ACRONIS.