Cyber Security amidst the Covid-19 outbreak

The emergence of information technology (IT) and its establishment as an almost ubiquitous aspect of our lives has been one of the defining aspects of the technology revolution. As we have realized over the years, IT is vital and has helped in economic and social progression of India. This very aspect also makes IT a potential target for cyber attacks even in the most normal times. Today, as the world grapples with an unprecedented pandemic in the form of Covid-19, hackers are trying to take advantage of the rapid changes happening across industries. As social distancing becomes the new normal so does working from home for employees with lockdowns and commute restrictions coming into place. 

 This remote setting brings along cyber security threats due to remote access of critical IT infrastructure by privileged users, use of collaboration tools for team interactions, availability of enterprise data on endpoint devices, lack of physical oversight of critical IT infrastructure, additional users new to remote work setting and so on and so forth. 
 
These cyber risks are leading hackers into leveraging the COVID pandemic to launch cyber attacks using it as a lure. Hackers are using the COVID-19 crisis as a part of their attack with various viruses in forms of ransomwares, data stealers or banking malwares such as Mustang Panda, Kimsuky and many others.
Here, the accountability and responsibility of global organisations gain prominence. We believe in all round security to help employees, clients, partners and society deploy reinforced IT security measures to protect data, networks and telecoms. 
 
For business continuity, employees need to be well connected among themselves and also with their partners and customers. The frequent usage of regular personal messaging apps on mobile devices can be prone to cyber-security risks. 
 
Hence, an ideal secure instant messaging would allow colleagues to efficiently and securely communicate and work together. This addresses the strong increase in use of messaging over the last few days with users equipping themselves with trustworthy solutions for secure communication. 

In the current scenario, individuals as well as enterprises should focus on the followings to keep themselves cyber-secured while making use of work from home model to the advantage of business continuity:
Favoring trusted channels for getting information – As regards the obligation to monitor information on sensitive topics, it is advised to inform oneself only through trusted channels.

Restricting the number of channels and guarding against sensationalism – Reduce the number of information channels and say no to sensationalism.

Check facts – In such scenarios, falsehoods often win over facts. As mentioned above, favoring selected trusted channels can be helpful. A good way to establish facts is to cross-reference information across trusted channels to reduce uncertainty. Combining detection tools with cyber threat intelligence to protect systems – The use of tools such as IDS (Intrusion Detection Systems) enriched with the information provided by cyber threat intelligence allows the detection of attacks, thus significantly reducing potential damage. 

 Make use of available tools like Encryption, Multi-factor authentication (like OTP, digital signatures, biometric), VPN among others. Solutions such as SafeNet Trusted Access can be deployed by CISOs, IT security teams to secure remote access for VPN users and cloud services such as Office 365, Salesforce or other virtual environments, with single sign-on and scenario-based access policies. Prioritize and only use company provided IT tools which come with adapted levels of security. 

Employees working from home should also desist from introducing USBs or other external devices from unknown sources to their IT ecosystems. Refresher courses on information security so that employees are reminded of the various concepts that they need to keep in mind while working remotely The ongoing pandemic is also an opportunity for organisations to assess their IT infrastructure and, if required look at deploying robust and advanced cyber security solutions. This will secure organisations and their workers from ever increasing cyber-attacks and potential cyber-threats in case of remote access/ work from home/ shadow IT risks by employees.

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