Digital Burglars Target People Working From Home With COVID-19 Scams

Digital break-ins are on the rise as hackers increase COVID-19 phishing schemes by more than 600 percent. Determined security strategies and knowledge in Calgary are at a premium right now.  

Communities across the country and around the world have pulled together to slow the spread of deadly COVID-19. Business leaders have quickly adopted remote workforce models to avoid layoffs, maintain productivity, and keep people safe. But with an increased number of people working from home, cybercriminals have seized the opportunity to exploit cybersecurity gaps.

Although digital thieves may be sitting hundreds or thousands of miles away, they are kicking down front doors and stealing valuable assets. Hackers may not wield shotguns when they rob the homes of hard-working citizens, but they most certainly mask their identity. Digital burglars will remotely trespass into your home unless industry leaders, and every day people stop them.

Hackers Remote Workforce COVID19 Calgary

Rampant COVID-19 Phishing Schemes

Email phishing schemes are perhaps the most prevalent modus operandi used by online criminals. The practice entails casting a net of emails that are infected with malicious software. Low-level cybercriminals may send these out in bulk to cast a wide net. More experienced and sophisticated digital scam artists leverage personal information, familiar email sources, incentives, and emotional manipulation.

“This is a new low for cyber-criminals, who are acting like piranha fish, cowardly attacking people on mass when they are at their most vulnerable,” Health and Social Care Select Committee member MP Dean Russell reportedly told Infosecurity Magazine. “It’s vital that the public remain vigilant against scam emails during this challenging time.”

The cybersecurity resource indicates that phishing attacks are up 667 percent and are driven by COVID-19 scams. According to Infosecurity, the coronavirus-themed emails break down along the following lines.

  • Scams: 54 percent
  • Brand Impersonations: 34 percent
  • Blackmail: 11 percent
  • Compromised Business Email: 1 percent

Successful phishing attacks and breaches rely on someone opening an email, downloading a file, or clicking on a malicious link. That action is equivalent to a home invader kicking down your door and holding you at gunpoint. Once the malicious software enters your device or penetrates a business network, digital thugs seize control and ownership of valuable digital assets.

Businesses & Employees Vulnerable To COVID-19 Breaches

Hackers are keenly aware of the new wave of first-time employees working from home. Many consider these remote workforce newbies the “low hanging fruit.” Given the health crisis forced industry leaders to pivot to increased remote capabilities almost overnight, hackers are trolling for systems that lack the following.

  • Business-Grade Firewalls & Antivirus Software
  • Fully-Patched Programs in Home Computers
  • Virtual Privacy Networks
  • Digital Transfer Encryption Capabilities
  • Remote Backup & Recovery
  • Employees with Cybersecurity Training

“Attackers are also taking advantage of the fact that many people who are working from home have not applied the same security on their networks that would be in place in a corporate environment, or that enterprises haven’t deployed the right technologies or corporate security policies to ensure that all corporate-owned or corporate-managed devices have the same security protections, regardless of whether they’re connected to an enterprise network or an open home Wi-Fi network,” according to the World Economic Forum.

How Businesses & Employees Can Prevent A COVID-19 Invasion

While business leaders and valued team members have no control over the spread of COVID-19 attacks, there are ways to prevent a breach. Companies would be wise to enter into a COVID-19 defense partnership in which management mobilizes deterrents, educational resources, and employees stand watch over home-based computers. These recommendations could mean the difference between successfully negotiating the pandemic or getting digitally robbed.

  • Provide Concise Guidance about COVID-19 Phishing Protocols
  • Publish Lists of Trending COVID-19 Phishing Schemes
  • Ensure Endpoint Devices Have Business-Grade Cybersecurity
  • Ensure Remote Access to Cloud-based System Remains Secure
  • Create Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
  • Implement Automated Threat Intelligence to Block Malicious Software
  • Utilize Appropriate Password Hygiene
  • Define and Separate Work Devices from Personal Use
  • Never Open an Email of Unknown Origin

Key stakeholders must understand that COVID-19 phishing schemes are preying on human emotions while we are experiencing heightened stress and anxiety. Any communication that makes promises, appears to be from a significant health agency, or seems to provide critical information, could be an attack.

In these troubled times, the experienced team of cybersecurity experts at Pure IT is ready to support our colleagues in the Calgary business community. If you have recently increased remote capabilities or would like to improve security measures, contact Pure IT.

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