cyber attacks 2020

Should we Expect a Cyber Pandemic? COVID-19 Might Have Brought new Cybersecurity Challenges

Last updated on August 30th, 2023 at 03:04 pm

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Everyone will remember 2020 as a disruptive year, and mainly for the coronavirus outbreak. Ask anyone to describe 2020, and they’ll start with the pandemic. But the story is complex and rich in intricacies. Last year should also be remembered for the high number of cybersecurity incidents that transformed the world. A few of the year’s hottest headlines were INTERPOL report shows an alarming rate of cyberattacks during COVID-19, Ransomware surge imperils hospitals as pandemic intensifies, and Maritime Cyberattacks Up by 400 Percent.

You live in a time when hackers can hit at any time, and everyone can be a victim. In 2020, they leveraged the pandemic for their personal gains. In the first months of the lockdown, the number of COVID-19 themed spam messages escalated by 26%, and the number of impersonation attacks increased by 30%.

Cyber attackers have seized the global crisis to launch digital exploits, so it’s not wrong to say that the world is heading to a new pandemic, only that this one will unsettle the online world. Malicious criminals are better equipped, use more sophisticated tools, and are bolder in their actions, making digital security concern for everyone. The number of successful cybercrimes has increased recently, and both individuals and organizations have realized they face a new threat. The legacy of coronavirus leaves everyone exposed to a higher risk of digital attacks for the years to come. As the healthcare world has developed a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus, the cybersecurity sector fails to develop effective solutions to all the threats hackers pose. Cybercriminals are masterminds who operate on multiple levels and quickly improve their strategies when digital security professionals find methods to counteract their actions.

What is the connection between the biological pandemic and the cybernetic attacks?

Governments worldwide have created lists to depict the digital issues the pandemic caused. The Canadian government published a list of COVID-19 related prevent cyber attacks to help people understand what these incidents imply.

– Phishing emails from government departments with coronavirus themed subjects that trick people into opening the attachments and revealing their personal and financial data.

– Fake offers from cleaning and heating companies that offer services designed to protect houses from COVID-19.

– Fake lists of infected people for sale, made by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organisation, to tell people who are infected in their area.

– False results claiming people were tested positive for coronavirus provided by the local Public Health Agency to convince people to confirm their credit card and health care information for receiving prescriptions.

– Private companies offering to test people for COVID-19 and sell products that can prevent or treat the health condition.

– Red Cross or other charities ask for donations in exchange for products that lacked from pharmacies and stores (masks).

It’s simple to determine that cybercriminals try to exploit people’s panic and fear around the pandemic, promote misinformation, and scam them to get their personal information and money. Organizations experience the same issues, they’re scammed to reveal customer data and offer money.

Businesses also had to face another cybersecurity issue as they had to switch to remote work. Some businesses had to transition to fully remote work to survive the pandemic. But most of them weren’t prepared for extensive transitions and lacked cybersecurity training, being vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

The UAE was also a target of digital attacks. Al Kuwaiti said that UAE registered a 250% rise in cyber incidents in 2020 as the crisis forces businesses to recover their work operations and hackers take advantage of their vulnerable systems. He said that this is no longer a solely biological pandemic, but a cyber plague.

What should we expect from a cyber pandemic?

Defining a cybernetic incident of these proportions is like defining a perfect tornado, only that this tornado hits the cybernetic space. It consists of many moving parts that include an extensive list of digital threats and attacks. The coronavirus outbreak facilitated new challenges or accelerated existing threats in the digital world from unemployment fraud to election security, data breaches, and ransomware.

Last year, security experts struggled to respond quickly to the changing attacks that threatened the online medium, and hackers took advantage of the unprecedented environment to exploit people, organizations, and governments. But this can change in 2021 if everyone acts more responsibly and improves their online security. From using VPN services with obfuscated servers to installing anti-virus programs and anti-malware systems, they can protect their privacy and stop cybercriminals from transforming them into victims.

To better understand how everyone can guard themselves against digital threats, let’s have a look at the 2021 security industry prediction trends.

In 2021 organizations will maintain the work from home policy, and it’ll have a huge impact on cybersecurity. Cybersecurity experts expect more attacks on home networks and computers because individuals don’t have a high interest in protecting their personal devices and connections. Hackers are ready to take advantage of architecture weaknesses.

Because everyone is forced to work remotely, the rush to cloud services can cause numerous security challenges, holes, outages, and misconfigurations. But the good guys are also more prepared to face the bad actors, and we expect to see more growth in the security sector, with a high number of products being released on the market to help individuals and organizations protect themselves. Multi-factor authentication will take center stage as everyone has finally understood that passwords are not so safe as they thought, no matter how complex they create them.

2021 will also bring high-profile IoT attacks as the technology advanced and more and more people integrate it into their daily lives. 5G is another technology at risk this year because it includes vulnerabilities the providers still need to address.

Tons of cybersecurity threats are lurking in the dark ready to steal data, pack devices with malware, and target everyone who has something to offer. Even if no one thought COVID-19 pandemic effects would expand outside the healthcare and financial sectors, everything shows it also affects the digital world.