Cybercriminals ramped up schemes as the COVID-19 crisis spread. But when wide-spread businesses were forced to shift to remote workforces, it was as if digital thieves had hit the jackpot. With millions are people still acclimating to work-from-home cybersecurity, hackers have used ransomware to pass through remote workers’ computers and seize control of entire business networks.
“We’re seeing an increase in activity by hackers now targeting employees in their home. Hackers are capitalizing on confusion of newly remote employees,” BoomTech, Inc. CEO Philipp Baumann reportedly said. “In fact, we’ve heard about a scheme where a hacker calls an employee impersonating the company’s IT support ask a few basic questions to gain their trust then tell them they need to check a setting requiring them to either share their login information or log into a bogus site capturing their login credentials.”
Ransomware & Malicious Software Attacks Surge with COVID-19 Pandemic
Baumann’s boots on the ground assessment reflects a global effort by digital scammers to penetrate otherwise secure business networks. According to a Check Point Software and Dimensional Research study, upwards of 71 percent of cybersecurity professions report that malicious attacks have only increased since the COVID-19 health crisis began, and remote workers are a primary target. After polling more than 400 IT and security experts, these were critical findings.
Phishing Schemes: More thana half of experts cited phishing as a leading threat.
Malicious Websites: Nearly one-third of respondents pointed to coronavirus-themed websites as leading malicious application threats.
Malware: Approximately 28 percent of IT professionals see malware as an increased threat.
Ransomware: Nearly 20 percent of cybersecurity experts point to a rise in ransomware attacks since the COVID-19 crisis forced businesses to shift to work-from-home employees.
Although the prevalence of ransomware attacks may appear lower than some other criminal methods, there are essential distinctions industry leaders would be wise to consider.
Malicious websites and malware are actionable ways to pilfer off credit card numbers, among other valuable data. But ransomware seizes control of entire business networks, including sensitive data, financial records, personal identity information, and electronic assets. Companies typically cannot regain access without paying a ransom, usually in Bitcoin, decided by the thief. In terms of crimes, phishing would be akin to having your pocket picked. Ransomware is like robbing Fort Knox.
Ransomware Attacks Pose Critical Threat During COVID-19 Crisis
“We’re seeing an increase in employees using their personal computers to work from home,” BoomTech’s Baumann reportedly said. “These computers rarely have the same level of protections as their office equipment. This can literally open the door to your company’s data via a breach and potentially ransomware.”
A recent surge in attacks in the healthcare industry highlights the dangers of ransomware. According to reports, Parkview Medical Center’s technology infrastructure recently suffered a ransomware attack that brought down several of its networks. The facility was damaged so severely that administrative services were forced to track patients through paper files while a forensic team works to restore IT networks.
“While our medical staff continue to work around the clock in response to the ongoing global pandemic, we are doing everything in our power to bring our systems back online as quickly and securely as possible,” Parkview Medical reportedly indicated in a statement.
ExecuPharm, based in Pennsylvania, also reportedly suffered a ransomware penetration. The company refused to pay the ransom, but reports indicate that hackers successfully implemented what is known as a “double hack” by passing through to the parent company network. Not only did the digital bandits encrypt the health industry outfit’s electronic asset, but they also leveraged personal identity files from both organizations as well. Compromised data includes Social Security numbers, date of birth, addresses, and basically everything needed to sell a complete profile on the dark web.
This is precisely what hackers are attempting to do to remote workers, penetrate their devices to also hack a business network. While hackers have disgracefully leveraged the pandemic to inflict financial harms on hard-working community members and businesses, experts believe ransomware threats will continue after Stay at Home mandates have been lifted.
“With the average penetration more than 200 days, we expect to see a surge in breaches and ransomware once companies get back to work as usual,” Baumann reportedly said.