Advertisement feature: Remote working – the cyber criminal’s dream come true
12 May 2020
With the sudden rise of remote working, insolvency practitioners and professional services will find cybersecurity issues have now become a serious challenge.
The UK is now in grip of the biggest remote working experiment in history and what was unthinkable only weeks ago is now the next normal. But such new ways of working are creating huge security problems for companies as never before.
A recent report by security firm Centrify reported that 71% of businesses believe home working is putting their organisations at risk, while 46% of firms have had an increase in phishing attacks targeting their networks since implementing remote working. Meanwhile, 57%, of UK IT decision-makers believe remote workers will expose their business to the risk of a data breach, according security firm Apricorn.
To make matters worse, the home working environment will typically rely on the latest technology deployed by companies, including collaboration apps (think Zoom) and networked devices such as laptops and printers. Many of these are products will be open to attack by increasingly aggressive cyber criminals.
Increasing cyber attacks
Recent research by business ISP specialist Beaming revealed the number of cyberattacks on UK businesses increased by a third in the first quarter of 2020. Respondents said they had experienced 157,000 attacks each in the first three months of the year, an average of more than one a minute. This attack rate was 30% higher than the same period year on year. Beaming claimed IoT apps were the most common targets for hackers, with 19,000 online attacks per company.
Unfortunately for businesses, such cyberattacks are becoming the norm in the post Covid-19 world. Cyber criminals have been quick to take advantage of the measures announced by the government to support people and companies affected by the coronavirus. Scams being used include texts and emails pretending to offer financial support or tax refunds, or demanding payment of tax they claim is owed.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea published information on coronavirus scams, which included:
- fake offers of tax rebates, to solicit bank details
- fake safety information emails, with attachments that download a keylogger, giving scammers access to users’ personal details
- fake charity emails asking for donations.
Elsewhere, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), an organisation backed by the City of London Police, reported cyber criminals were sending fake NHS links for the public to donate money to fight the coronavirus. Total losses as a result of such scams cost the British public £1.6 million by early April, with 50 reports received daily of phishing emails and malware attacks. There were even reports of people receiving emails claiming they’d been fined £250 for leaving their homes during the lockdown period.
One particular area of concern regarding home working is the use of wifi connected home office printers. A recent survey on the business impact of Covid-19 on the printer industry by Quocirca reported 86% of print industry executives said their customers were worried about the security of home printers. For security conscious CEOs legacy printers are the ideal vulnerability point for cyber criminals eager to penetrate a company’s network.
More worryingly still, many security analysts believe cyber criminals are starting to get ahead of their targets. After selecting a target, they often take great care to understand a business better than its own IT and security teams. They will get to know its networks, CRM systems, how it processes invoices, who the HR director is, what cloud services they’re using, who works from home etc. All the while, the security team has no idea which people in the organisations are being targeted.
To make matters worse, many employees often fail to implement best practice methods handed down by IT security teams and as remote working practices increase, the IT department, no matter how effective, will no longer be the gatekeeper of all security. This will inevitably undermine a company’s ability to protect the data of its employees and its customers.
The next normal is here and businesses everywhere will need to change their modus operandi if they’re to survive and thrive.
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