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Report Finds Coronavirus Impact on Cyber Security

01 October, 2020

To suggest that the Coronavirus, COVID-19, has had an impact on our day to day lives would be something of an understatement. It barely needs repeating, but the global impact of Coronavirus has been staggering, with its impact being felt in virtually every aspect of life.

Case in point? The Coronavirus’ measurable impact on the cyber security landscape.

In the past, we’ve covered the rise in Coronavirus scams, and now a new study from Cynet has revealed the sheer scale of the Coronavirus’ impact on the way cybercriminals are attempting to prise open your security processes and gain access to your systems.

Why has the Coronavirus' impacted cyber security?

Cynet’s study found that their systems detected a sharp increase in new, sophisticated cyber-threats across its global network, designed to take advantage of the unique circumstances created by the pandemic. Specifically:

  • Staff working from home
  • Extensive use of VPNs to connect to work networks
  • Broad usage of private and personal devices to access work emails
  • Lack of security team presence
  • Conspiracy theories created in the wake of the virus

Together, these circumstances have created a ‘perfect storm’ for opportunistic cyber criminals who are capitalising on the fear, uncertainty, unfamiliarity and confusion of the pandemic.

What has been the effect of the Coronavirus on cyber security?

Critically, their study found that in the confusion surrounding COVID-19, both the volume of attacks and the types of new malware have grown significantly. Cynet break their findings down into two key areas:

New types of malware

Historical data from Cynet shows that roughly 80% of detected attacks utilise existing malware, phishing techniques and malware variants, with 20% of attacks utilising novel versions of each.

However, in the first three months of the pandemic, they detected a significant upswing in novel attacks, witnessing a roughly 35/65 split on new to existing attack types.

This significant jump highlights the opportunistic nature of cybercrime, with cybercriminals quickly designing attacks to isolate and expose individuals within an organisation. 

An increased volume of attacks

Over the same three months, Cynet’s Detection and Response team witnessed a spike in the number of requests from organisations seeking their expertise. From an average of roughly 200 per month in the five months prior to the pandemic, February, March and April saw numbers ranging between 400 and 550. 

Although not indicative of overall global trends, this finding nonetheless highlights that organisations witnessed significant new challenges throughout the pandemic.

Which sectors were the most affected?

When it comes to cyber attacks, no sector is safe from breaches. Whether your orgnisation is large or small, for-profit or non-profit, you need to remain vigilant to attacks. Case in point?

According to the analysis, only one sector saw a decline in attacks: Sports & Education, for obvious reasons.

The rest all saw an increase in the number of attacks with Finance (+32.63%), Food Production (+29.36%) and Retail (+23.42%) particularly affected. The other sectors included IT Technology and Services, Machiner, Oil & Energy, Telecommunications, Manufacturing and Automotive.

What can you do to protect your organisation?

Cynet’s analysis of the Coronavirus and its impact on cyber security highlights one thing above all else - the need for more comprehensive organisational cyber security.

Technological solutions have their place, but with an estimated 80% of breaches occurring as a result of human error, rather than technological failure, it’s essential that you empower your team to protect your organisation.

By giving your workforce the tools they need to spot and stop attacks before they do damage, you can dramatically reduce your chances of data loss and reputational damage.

It’s why our cyber security awareness training is adopted by organisations large and small, and why we’re tireless in our goal to bring everyone together to improve organisational cyber security.

Want to know more? Get in touch with a member of our team today.

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