Cyberattacks have been a fact of life for years and are only increasing in number and severity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The numbers are staggering. From January to April 2020, a private sector partner of Interpol detected nearly a million spam messages, almost a thousand malware-related incidents and nearly 50,000 malicious URLs.(1) Global uncertainty makes organizational networks a tempting target for exploitation.
How do employers respond to these ever-increasing attacks? Through vigilance, open communication and the right technology, IT teams can mitigate challenges and thwart cyberattacks.
Recognize the Threat
The first step is recognizing that the threat is real and can affect your organization. Hackers are attacking companies of all sizes all over the world. And your organization is only as strong as its weakest link.
Thankfully, many are aware of the threat and are taking steps to protect their companies. Cybersecurity is a top concern among IT leaders. In research research, 52 percent of IT leaders said that one of their organization's top priorities over the next 12 months will be to protect employees from cybersecurity attacks.(2)
Be Prepared for Attacks of All Kinds
Cyberattacks have evolved in the age of COVID, as bad actors expand their range of tricks to exploit network vulnerabilities. Phishing attacks especially are taking on a new tone during this time. Such attacks have always preyed on fear — the attacker often poses as a trusted person to get their victim to divulge sensitive information. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s evidence that attackers are posing as health officials to take advantage of the current climate of fear and uncertainty.(3)
From phishing attacks to malware, cyberattacks are coming from all sides. Bad actors were exploiting COVID-19 in their phishing tracks as early as January 2020. As the world has shifted and office workers are mostly working remotely, cyberattackers have changed tactics too, impersonating tech companies that facilitate remote work to lull employees into a false sense of security. (4)
In 2020, multiple agencies have seen an increase in the frequency and variety of cyberattacks on businesses. (5) These attacks include (but are not limited to):
- Credential Stuffing
- DDoS Attacks
- Remote Desktop Protocol Targeting
What Can You Do?
There are several things IT teams can do to protect organizations from cyberattacks. The first is education; employees need to know what threats exist and how they can protect themselves.
The second is communication. IT teams should be frank and open with employees at all levels and invite questions and concerns about cyberattacks. When employees are aware of the threats and understand how they can protect themselves, they become the first line of defense against cyberattacks.
The third thing is technology. VMware products preserve business operations against cyberattacks. Is your technology up to date? One survey discovered that 80 percent of all attacks reported by respondents used vulnerabilities that had been reported and registered in 2017 and earlier. Further, 1 in 5 attacks exploited vulnerabilities that were at least 7 years old.(7) Outdated and legacy systems are ripe for exploitation, while newer technology often has been built with security in mind.
The technology should incorporate visibility into every possible vector. With technology being more complex it’s even more important to have a single view that isn’t siloed and connects all these things together (One of the ways bad actors exploit infrastructure is when the environment is siloed or hard to manage.(8)) Your solution should be able to take vector points from applications, endpoints, the network and elsewhere and piece them together. This way one person understands what is happening in real time, and can remediate any issues.
As technology environments become more complex, thanks in part to the current remote working environment, organizations need solutions that put security first, making it an intrinsic feature of the product. Cyberattacks have taken on a new sense of urgency in 2020, thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bad actors are employing a number of tricks and relying on fear and uncertainty to gain access to sensitive information and data. With vigilance and education, IT teams can prepare their workforce against the threat of cyberattacks. Deploying the right technology can provide a useful shield against the threat of any number of cyberattacks.
Learn how VMWare’s suite of products can address cyberattacks at vmware.com.
- 1 Interpol (2020). INTERPOL Report Shows Alarming Rate of Cyberattacks during COVID-19
- 2 VMWare (2020). IT and your employee experience survey
- 3 Newman, L. (2020). “Watch Out for Coronavirus Phishing Scams.” Wired
- 4 Kelly, T. (2020). “How Hackers are Using COVID-19 to Find New Phishing Victims.” Security Magazine
- 5 Center for Internet Security (2020). Resource Guide for Cybersecurity During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- 7 Jaffee, L. (2020). COVID-19 Accounts for Most 2020 Cyberattacks. SC Media
- 8 Yu, E. (2020). COVID-19 Fuels Cyberattacks, Exposes Gaps in Business Recovery. ZDNet
More Thought Leadership from VMWare
- Executive Profile Q&A: Brian Madden: The Future of Work Is Here
- Supporting Employees as They Attempt to Maintain Work/Life Balance During a Pandemic
- Opportunities to Optimize the Employee Experience
- Jump-Starting Return to the Office Plans
- Delivering Exceptional IT Service When the Office Isn’t the Office
- Cloud Elasticity: Continuous Access to the Resources You Need
- Centralized Computing Power in a Decentralized Work Environment
- Preparing Employees for Day-One Readiness
- Leveraging Network Agility As Demand Shifts Into an Uncertain Normal
- Reviewing the Security Strategy in the New Normal: What to Watch For
- Rethinking Security Strategies for Today’s Distributed Workforce
- Cyberattacks Are Increasing — Here’s How to Stay Safe
- Zero Trust — A Security Mindset