The Pandemic and the Renaissance of Cybersecurity
January 30th, 2023
Keeping information secure is a top priority for most organizations, but the sudden shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult to prevent information leaks and cybersecurity threats.
Cybercriminals are always looking for weaknesses in networks and systems, and the pandemic has made many organizations and individuals vulnerable. The rapid shift to remote work did not give organizations enough time to prepare secure internal infrastructures, leaving IT staff unable to adequately protect employee devices.
Without enterprise-level firewalls, employees are at a higher risk of falling victim to cybercrime. Cybercriminals have taken advantage of this situation, exploiting the increased access and people's anxieties during the pandemic.
Here are some of the most common cybersecurity threats and how cybercriminals worked them during the pandemic:
Emails regarding cures or warnings about the coronavirus have surged, and many people have fallen victim to this type of scam. According to the SonicWall Cyber Threat Report in 2020, the most common terms in phishing emails were "virus" (42.33%), "Corona" (32.92%), and "quarantine" (9.72%). Significant peaks for phishing emails were seen on March 24, April 3, and June 19 of 2020.
2. Malicious Domains
There has been a significant rise in the number of registered domains that contain different terms referring to the coronavirus, such as "covid19", "coronavirus", and "corona-virus". Scammers have created thousands of sites daily to try and lure people into clicking links that would unleash malware or give them sensitive information. A report from Trend Micro saw that there had been 1,025,301 hits on malicious URLs related to Covid-19 in the third quarter of 2020.
The healthcare industry, especially hospitals, public institutions, and health centers, have been overwhelmed during the pandemic, making them easy prey for ransomware attacks. They could not afford to get disrupted, and ended up paying the ransom so that they could get back to using their systems, which hackers locked them out of. A report from Comparitech stated that ransomware attacks cost US healthcare organizations $20.8 billion in 2020, doubling the numbers from 2019. Over 600 different hospitals, clinics, and organizations were affected by this cybercrime and an increase of attacks was even observed the year after.
Cybersecurity Industry On the Rise
With the sudden shift towards remote work, many organizations were forced to allow their employees to work from home, which led to a lack of preparation for secure internal infrastructures. As a result, cybercriminals took advantage of this vulnerability and attacks such as phishing, malicious domains, and ransomware increased. In 2021, investments in the cybersecurity industry reached an all-time high of $29.5 billion, and the market is expected to continue growing in the next decade.
Here are just some of the reasons that contributed to the continuing rise of the industry:
1. Increasing Number of E-commerce Platforms
One of the main drivers of this growth is the increasing number of e-commerce platforms. With lockdowns in place, people have embraced e-commerce even more, leading to a growing number of e-commerce enterprises. The cybersecurity industry is predicted to reach $376.32 billion by 2029, thanks to emerging e-commerce platforms, cloud security, the internet of things (IoT), and other emerging technologies.
2. Acceleration of Automation
As more organizations adopt automation, more infrastructure is rooted in technology, making it more vulnerable to cyber attacks. A Salesforce survey showed that 91% of CIOs and IT decision-makers said that their need for automation has increased. Automated systems are made by code that can easily be accessed by cybercriminals, making it crucial for organizations to have secure systems in place.
3. Casualty to Cybercrime is Expensive
Ransomware, for example, could cost a company a hefty amount to get its own system back. Cybercrimes generate millions of losses in companies annually, and it's becoming so lucrative that it's surpassing the illegal drugs business. IBM disclosed that data breaches can cost a company an average of $4.35 million, which can quickly put a company out of business. This is why companies are less lenient about keeping their cyber walls up and are investing more in cybersecurity.
4. Hackers are Getting Trickier to Thwart
The 2021 Internet Crime Report by the FBI stated that more than $6.9 billion was lost to cybercrime, overtaking the numbers in the previous year by about $2 billion. More hacking tools are also now available in cyberspace, with an increase of 65% from 2020 to 2021. The challenge for IT analysts and cybersecurity professionals is to always be one step ahead and find vulnerabilities and security risks before hackers do.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of cybersecurity, as many organizations and individuals were caught off guard by the sudden increase in cyberattacks. As we move into a post-COVID era, it is crucial to learn from past experiences and stay vigilant in securing data. Organizations must prioritize investing in cybersecurity to protect sensitive information. Individuals must also be aware of the risks and take steps to secure their own personal data.