In this article we will cover the following topics:
- Citizens lack awareness of cyber security despite growing number of attacks
- What are the types of attacks during the COVID pandemic
- Checklist of controls against such attacks
In the COVID-19 era, hackers have become more vigilant in attacking the Data Centers and servers. The outbreak has given hackers a wider platform with the majority of the innocent audience, who is not aware of how their information might get stolen. Therefore, citizens should not only be concerned about their health but also increase their awareness of data security.
A report from Unisys states that less than one-third of Americans are taking data security seriously, when data breaches have multiplied four times in the COVID era. Also, FTC COVID 19 report shows a total fraud loss of $5.09M since January 2020 to May 2020. This loss might have been calculated as per the cases that have been reported, while many users might not be aware that their security has been breached.
Today’s cyber-attacks during this pandemic have proved that COVID-19 is not the only enemy at this hour which can disrupt the life of every individual. Senior Technology executives from CNBC have confirmed the increased risks of Cybersecurity due to increased work from home. Although experts have contradicted the statement with more solid reasoning, where the real risk is much higher than the one stated by CNBC executive.
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Miriam Wugmeister, partner and co-chair of law firm Morrison & Foerster’s global privacy and data security group stated “We are hearing from many clients and law enforcement that the level of cyber-attacks, phishing attempts, and scams occurring in light of COVID-19 has grown dramatically”.
Negligence Of Citizens Towards Data Security
Cyber criminals have been using this situation as a potential gain. It is not just COVID-19, but earlier during the Ebola crisis too, when the world was busy saving people from a deadly disease, cyber criminals were finding ways to prove their power over the weak nerves of cyber users. This situation is very alarming, as cyber criminals are again taking advantage of the fear that has taken control over people’s minds. Below are a few examples which more than fifty percent of cyber users are not aware of:
- Spam campaigns are being held by cyber criminals with the keywords COVID, COVID-19, or corona. These are not just any promotional emails but have the potential to take charge of your device with a single click.
- Masked spyware, malware, and Trojans have been found in attractive Coronavirus maps and websites, providing information regarding the pandemic to users. This suspicious act by cyber criminals has the potential to corrupt the user system or spy on every activity being performed on that system.
- Ransomware attacks have increased in multiple folds as compared to normal days, during COVID-19 pandemic. Due to emergencies in the healthcare industry, cyber criminals have been attacking the vulnerabilities in the systems through infected emails or compromised employee credentials.
The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has issued an alert for the general public for the awareness of cyber-attacks. This alert has displayed how cyber criminals are attacking the common public, like
- An SMS message from a government that asks for some payment amount as a promise to battle COVID-19.
- An email message from an unknown source with a link or attachments regarding COVID-19 information. On clicking such attachments, the user accidentally downloads a malware (usually a trick bot is used in this pandemic for majority of attacks).
Cyber Security Preparedness in COVID-19
A short delay in the response to an emergency is capable of causing potential damage to the victim- this is not just true to COVID-19 patients but also the victims of cyber-attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it is impossible to be 100% prepared for every potential risk thus, in this situation, awareness and investments would be the key tools for individual data security. Preparedness for fighting the COVID-19 Incidences is largely required at this time. Every individual and organization has to be prepared to fight the impacts of this pandemic.
The alert issued by The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has provided the information on a list of indicators of compromise (IOCs) for detection of cyber attacks
Below checklist would help in keeping the guards up against the cyber-attacks:
- Backup Files: It is always wise to take the backup of your data on reliable sources, like hard drives for a small quantity of data and Cloud backup for large data.
- Safe Login: Ensure the website authenticity while logging in with your credentials on it. A large number of fake websites have been floated on the web to trap the customer and obtain their credentials for misuse.
- Spam Protection: Using secure email gateways is advisable to prevent the threat of spams.
- Antivirus: Protect your system by installing a legitimate antivirus software with malware detection capabilities. Performing regular scans is recommended while using antivirus software.
- Application downloads: It is advisable to download any third-party application from a recognized source rather than a pirated version. Such software from unreliable sources is a huge vulnerability that exposes your system to a hacker.
- Public Wi-Fi: The use of Public Wi-Fi without having VPN is highly risky. Thus, using VPN while using Wi-Fi transfers the user’s data in encrypted form.
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