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Malwarebytes Study Highlights COVID-19 Impact on Cybersecurity

About 20% out of more than 200 managers, directors and C-suite executives in IT and cybersecurity roles said they had faced a security breach as a result of a remote work setup, according to a survey conducted by a leading provider of advanced endpoint protection and remediation solutions, Malwarebytes.
 
The study also mentioned that 24% paid unexpected expenses to address a security breach or attack following shelter-in-place orders. This is because in shifting to a remote work setup, companies are now more vulnerable to cyber attacks, with 18% admitting that security was not a priority for their employees and 28% saying they’re using personal devices for conducting work more than their employer-issued ones.
 
To get more insights into the study, CSA leapt at the chance to interview Christopher Boyd, Malwarebytes’ Lead Malware Intelligence Analyst. According to Boyd, cybercriminals quickly transitioned to delivering years-old malware with brand new campaigns that preyed on the confusion, fear and uncertainty surrounding the global coronavirus pandemic.
 
“A lot of cybercriminal attacks made use of pre-existing files. They used lots of old files. They didn't really change the kind of technology that they use to attack people with because they were wrongfooted like everybody else and they didn't have time to make a new innovative sort of infection files”, explained Boyd, citing that the pandemic gave a short time for both companies and cybercriminals to adjust their operations.
 
Malwarebytes saw various forms of cyber attacks during the lockdown caused by the pandemic, as companies shifted their operations remotely. One of the most prominent attacks was spam related to COVID-19. According to the report, Malwarebytes observed that cybercriminals have adapted to take advantage of improperly secured corporate VPNs, cloud-based services and business email – all of which could be used for infiltration of corporate assets.
 
Surges in phishing emails that use COVID-19 as a lure to cover up malicious activity were the most common, with emails containing commercial malware, such as AveMaria and NetWiredRC, which allow for remote desktop access, webcam control, password theft and more.
 
When asked about the countermeasures for these attacks, Boyd said that “It's not just the cybercriminals have changed the way they work. Law enforcement has had to also retool the way to go after cybercriminals”.
 
However, not all organisations can afford all of the expenses in cybersecurity cases, with many organisations struggling to make ends meet in the current uncertain environment. With this, Boyd gave advice to companies to take the necessary steps to further improve their cybersecurity, suggesting organisations do all they can to keep their data and assets secure and if need be, to utilise free security software that is reputable, reliable and trustworthy.
 
“I think that’s an acceptable alternative. As long as they are happy with the tools that they install and the tool is working and usable. That is definitely better than nothing”, Boyd added.
 
Boyd ended the interview with a note that cyber attacks today are innovative, even using conspiracies and frauds, especially about COVID-19 and advised companies to scan all the spam posts that they encounter.
 
“Stay on your guard, make sure your protections are in place, make sure your organisation is doing everything they can as scammers will go to baffling extreme lengths to infect organisations”.
 
Click here to read the full Malwarebytes report titled “Enduring From Home: COVID-19’s impact on business security”.

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