CYBER SECURITY

Remote working has led to increased cybersecurity threats


Cybercriminals have certainly been using the pandemic in their relentless phishing and ransomware attacks. They even disguise themselves as the World Health Organisation (WHO) to steal personal and sensitive information. There has also been a significant increase in malicious emails and misinformation.

According to a recent survey by Centrify, about 70% of business decision-makers believe that the shift to 100% remote working during the pandemic crisis has increased the likelihood of a cyber-breach.

The data was obtained via a poll of 200 senior business decision-makers in large- and medium-sized UK companies. The report also states that 46% have already noted an increase in phishing attacks since implementing a policy of widespread remote working.

Cybersecurity expert and J2 Software CEO John Mc Loughlin says there is an emerging trend in cybersecurity threats worldwide and also a massive spike in scammers and hackers using the pandemic for informational and financial gain. “Governments worldwide have reported an increase in cyber threats over the past months.”

“The prime reason is the drastic increase of internet users since the global lockdown. Meetings have moved to online platforms as most employees and students now work and study from home,” he explains.

With many more people spending more time on the internet has increased their exposure to the risks of cybercrime. There has been a 350 percent surge in phishing websites since the start of the pandemic.

According to Forrester’s “Cloud Security Solutions Forecast: 2018 to 2023”, businesses are expected to spend more than $12-billion on cloud security tools by 2023. The report investigates the ways companies will invest in cloud security tools over the next five years.

There is a huge demand for awareness and education. Companies need to improve their IT security, control and protect their data and educate their staff in order to reduce the chances of a cyberattack.

“Inadequate cybersecurity education and awareness is another concern, especially considering the sudden change in online usage and habits. People don’t always realise the dangers of being online, especially when working from home. Companies often fail to provide staff with adequate cybersecurity education and training, especially with regards to regulation and policies,” he says.

The Centrify research also found that 79% of business decision makers have increased their cyber security procedures to manage high volumes of remote access over the next three months. Similarly, 73% of businesses have given staff extra training on how to remain cyber-safe when working remotely, with specific training around verifying passwords and log-in credentials.

Also, the amount of time children spend using electronic devices has drastically increased. They struggle to distinguish between reality and the virtual world, thus increasing their risk of falling prey to cybercriminals. Workforces have become more dependent on digital platforms and this has increased both employee and company vulnerabilities.

The problem is that cybersecurity infrastructure is not strong enough, especially in developing countries like SA. Companies urgently need to establish a legal and regulatory framework in the cyberspace and at the same time, run cybersecurity awareness campaigns.

According to Gartner, enterprise spending on cloud security solutions is predicted to increase from $636-million in 2020 to $1.63-billion in 2023.

“Unfortunately, this pandemic will continue to change the world and people will continue to be more exposed to the increasing number of cybersecurity threats,” he concludes.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I write about tech, business and African startups. Founder and Editor For TechTrendsKE. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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