Impact of COVID-19 on Cybersecurity

By NIIT Editorial

Published on 18/10/2021

10 minutes

Cyber breaches for corporations are becoming a regular occurrence due to the complexities induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations that lack the wherewithal for an end-to-end robust cyber security outlook are standing at the edge and waiting for a debacle. With the variety of attacks diversifying and no end to the sight in the work from home hiatus, there are a couple of best practices that enterprises can adopt to synthesize a work-for-all cyber-secure environment. 

Making the Case for Greater Cybersecurity 

Although the internet connects us all, yet, work-from-home employees need a uniform, systemic cyberinfrastructure to work under. Many home Wifi networks lack the security walls to hinder unauthorized access to data. Accessing work files from a personal device increases exposure to cyber attacks such as phishing emails. Not to mention the human distractions that eat into otherwise okay-ish cyberspace. 

Staying at home under the influence of unbeknownst distractions, human errors have caused an uptick in phishing emails. A survey by Tessian, went on to establish that 47% of people fall for such social engineering scams while operating from home. Malevolent adversaries have used this time to multiply hacking efforts to coerce people online. As per another study, data breaches associated with work-from-home people could go as high as $137,000. Last year, federal authorities in London reported cyber losses worth 11 million pounds attributable to COVID-19 scams.

Video Conferencing Services - The Soft Target 

Video conferencing is one industry that received a sonic boom of growth due to the pandemic. Yet, the overwhelming consumer demand didn’t translate into secure cyberspace. On the contrary, they have been easy targets for hackers. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, between February 2020 and May 2020, over 500,000 people were affected due to breakout attacks by hackers in which critical personal information was stolen and sold on the dark web. OpenBullet tool was used to make digital manoeuvers for the same. Refer to this link on how OpenBullet is used to manipulate internet users. 

Credential Stuffing is another form of cyberattack that gained popularity. In this attack, criminals use a combination of previously stolen credentials (username, password) and obtain unauthorized access. Remember, when uninvited personnel bombed Zoom meetings, that was because of credential stuffing. 

Factors Influencing the Risk of Cyber Threats

Multiple factors collectively contribute to the rise in online breaches during COVID-induced lockdowns: 

  • Human nature cannot be fully trusted. Working from home, some people allocate free time to cultivating constructive habits. However, there could be a rare faction that carries out punishable cyber crimes. 
  • In the wake of abrupt lockdowns, many corporations were forced to implement a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy for accessing official records. This coupled with the not-so-secure home Wifi networks is an invitation letter to those searching for meek digital openings for a crime.
  • Hacktivists (individuals using hacking as a tool for political/social leanings) pose a high-risk threat to companies that knowingly or unknowingly offend them. 
  • Skiddies, or script kiddies, are young hackers that lack sophisticated knowledge to outclass enterprises and therefore try their hands by carrying out rookie, yet dangerous attacks online. This is another adversarial demographic to beware of.    

Cyber attacks are upping the ante in sophistication. Analysts have pointed to the growing implementation of machine learning in cyber warfare to masquerade attacks. Phishing attacks have infiltrated new channels through SMS and voice messages. The frenzy related to the COVID vaccine updates is used as a smokescreen to engulf people into specialized ransomware attacks. 

This has caused an upsurge in professional talent whose forte is cybersecurity. People are keeping an eye out for cybersecurity-related courses online so they can acquire high-income skills in a short period. 

Explore NIIT’s PGP in Cybersecurity in case you are looking for an appreciable profile about entry-level cyber security jobs salaries. Speaking of online security courses, this certification is bound to add value to your resume.  

How do Gear Up Enterprise Security Against Cyber Threats?

Employees operating from home should be made to switch to the COPE (company-owned personally enabled) model. While that is a start people should look forward to acting on the following directions: 

Use Antivirus Software: Low-level attacks can be quelled with antivirus protection. Work-from-home employees should be granted access to run regular checks and report issues if any. 

Debrief on cybersecurity: WFH professionals should be trained in best practices for sending emails between public and private channels. 

Use Strong Passwords: believe it or not, setting up a strong password is a time-tested technique to ward off unauthorized entries into your Wifi network. 

Use a Virtual Private Network: Although not a fail-proof mechanism in and of itself, VPNs can guard you well enough from shallow threats. 

Strengthen Weaknesses: This is a sensitive issue for many IT teams, who either from lack of knowledge or sheer ignorance, leave gaps in their infrastructure. Regular penetration testing and quality checking are highly recommended. 

Create Disaster Control and Mitigation Plans: Information security teams should invest time in creating strategies and practicing drills which they can revert to in times of need. 

Implement a Zero-Trust Policy: As the name suggests, this policy eradicates abstract themes of trust and allows only authorized personnel to access official records. Although in contrast to the idea of “access granted by default”, a zero-trust policy can work to reduce cyber breaches by a good multiple. 

While these measures lie at the end of the corporations, there are some actionable that can be taken seriously by learners interested in making an entry into the field. One way is through cyber security distance learning programs, something we discuss in the next section.

Businesses Need Cyber Specialists with High-Degree Skills

NIIT’s PGP in Cybersecurity is designed to prepare learners to be future-ready for the industry. This cyber security PG course is custom-built for learners migrating from different fields. 

The demand for such practitioners is poised to rise by 200 percent in India by 2024. Upskilling is all fine and dandy, but only those individuals with well-attested credentials stand to go the distance in this line. 

To give you a broad-level view, there are about 6 lakh cyber professionals in India, of which only 3.7 lakh have “certified” expertise. The gap and opportunity are huge for learners. Whether you are searching for an entry-level cyber security job near you, or the best cyber security course in India, this program is bound to stand out. Don’t miss the train, or you’ll regret it later. Apply now and study cyber security online. 


Reviewed on 19th June 2024

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