COVID act as an opportunistic bridge for hackers

COVID act as an opportunistic bridge for hackers

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The digital revolution has led to cybersecurity attacks such as phishing, malware, zero-day exploit, cross-site scripting, credential reuse, a man in the middle, SQL injection and many more. Organizations deploy cybersecurity policies, standards, and frameworks to mitigate threats, security risks and cyberattacks to minimize them and prepare for future incidents. The current COVID remote working situation hinders deploying such security standards and monitoring the business operations to eliminate cyberattacks. So, which of the things are contributing to the hacking attempts? Which of the activities performed by employees of any organization are a bridge for hackers?

Unsecure public Wi-Fi

In the past, hackers exploited organizations and individuals’ systems using the man in the middle attack strategy. Covid has increased this cyber attack occurrence significantly due to unencrypted and public communication. Remote workers using insecure public Wi-Fi are vulnerable to hackers. Shopping online and leaving the laptops unattended connected to public Wi-Fi can help hackers steal the bank account details and other login credentials. Moreover, the build-up of malicious hotspots, data thefts, ransomware, phishing, and malware attacks are risks of using unsecured public Wi-Fi.

Keylogger

Higher education, healthcare, government officials and healthcare industries are vulnerable to keylogger injection attacks. The remote working shift has activated the phishing campaigns and keylogging attempts. For example, the HawkEye Keylogger campaign is designed by hackers to target email clients and browsers to steal credentials, steal data using the SMTP protocol, and capture screenshots of sensitive information. This phishing campaign is strong enough to disable the higher tier security layers and Windows defender and follows the automated delivery of stolen data encrypted with AES. Covid has helped the hackers to steal sensitive information in innovative ways. Remote endpoints are vulnerable to keylogger installation, and hackers get access to all the user logs. The kernel-level keyloggers are undetected and exhibit high-level danger to an organization’s sensitive data.

BYOD policy

The remote working shift in the COVID has compelled users to install many unfamiliar tools, protocols, and communication mechanisms. Organizations with BYOD (bring your device) policy follows many safety parameters to weaken the occurrence of cyberattacks. But employees accessing the cloud infrastructure and other such tools from their home internet connection are not safe. So, again COVID has benefited the hackers due to BYOD policy. It was easy for the IT administrator to monitor employees’ abnormal behavior using their own devices in the office premises. But working from home has weakened the ‘human firewall’ and helps hackers perform cyberattacks like the man in the middle, DOS, DDOS and other such attacks.

Spam Links

Hackers are taking advantage of COVID and creating spam links luring the organizations and people to click on them to access their systems. In the year 2020, many fraudulent schemes and spam messages were sent by hackers to people to make them click to compromise the sensitive information. The spam link attacks raised greatly due to people online to work, study, and shop online. Hackers are taking advantage of people being online and spreading spam links to fulfil their criminal intentions.

Copied and Pirated software

COVID has led to the increased use of copying commercial software illegally. Malware codes mostly inject the pirated software copies by hackers affecting people’s computer system’s and finances. Working from home has reportedly increased pirated software usage up to 30 to 40 percent compared to the past. It also initiates the breach of the organization’s intellectual property and using the MSPs (managed service programs) and the wholesale shift to the cloud is not secure. Usage of unpirated Software’s by unemployed people to generate income opens ways for hackers to breach sensitive information.

Final words

Hackers are taking advantage of COVID, and people panic situations lead them to click on spam links. So COVID has become an excellent opportunity for hackers. There should be online awareness of phishing training and patch management. Every individual must install and deploy IPS, IDS and other such detection mechanisms on their systems. Updating the software and using the safe browser techniques can also weaken the hacking attempts. If COVID is creating opportunities for hackers, we should strengthen our systems by using advanced cybersecurity standards, frameworks, and policies.