The Covid- 19 Pandemic has caused multisector devastation and transformation including the Cybersecurity sector. It is a unique phenomenon with a global impact which disrupted lifestyles permanently, forced corporates to shut down and shuttered people dreams forever. The Information Technology sector is the epicenter of these transformations as organizations are rushing to adopt online technology and integrate new innovations into their systems to maintain efficiency. As a result of this abrupt adoption of new applications, software’s and hardware’s, there was no enough time to put in place appropriate security measures. Organizations and individuals have therefore, installed insecure network systems which make them prone to cyber-attacks.
Changing situational factors
Increased dependency on Virtual technologies with little consideration to security implications which increase vulnerability. Social engineering criminals are identifying victims, impersonating trusted information sources and using advanced social engineering methodologies to make unauthorized access to individual and organization systems. Common crimes include scam documents and texts, photos and images to make victims fall into their traps. They send images with hidden malwares used for data mining and obtaining confidential data like passwords and financial information.
In response to changing situational factors, cybercriminals are diversifying their methodologies and they are aggressive to capitalize on the new opportunities presented by the Pandemic. Organizations and technology end-users have to therefore be vigilant to ensure that the digital space is safe and secure.
The Convergence of digital technology and computing
The world is trying to adjust to maintain constant communication without breaching travel and social distancing restrictions. There is a scramble for new innovations to make organizations operational and improve efficiency by embracing the “work from home” concept to decongest offices and production areas. The Virtual ecosystem is providing essential communication services, like updates, both local and international, online learning, social networking services and entertainment services like gaming. While social distancing, individuals are also using video communication and emails to receive and send emotional support.
Many organizations have adopted telework models for employees to be able to work and communicate remotely, without security considerations in place. Employers are unable to provide recommended security protections since they are far away and using insecure IOT devices and untrusted WI-FI Networks. With all that, there is no time to educate employees on protection measures like how to avoid possible attacks or detect them before they happen.
Cybercrimes as the new threat
Even before the Covid- 19 Pandemic, Cybersecurity was a multisector threat affecting organizations, industries, governments and to larger extent individuals. Corporates want to increase their productivity and efficiency and therefore they are not hesitant to adopt every new innovation in the market. With such aggressiveness, there is little concern to security, although firms are trying to invest in the security of their systems, the rate is not proportional to the vulnerabilities. Hackers are very keen to identify such loopholes and take advantage of them with devastating consequences. Mayur Rele says”Cyber crime is therefore a new societal problem the mankind has to deal with”
Covid -19 themed Scams
These kind of crimes are designed to exploit the growing dependency on online communication networks and systems. Google had earlier reported a rapid increase in Covid 19 related message spams in addition to increased Phishing and Hacking attacks. Malicious websites with names bearing Corona and Covid 19 in their domains had been registered. Innocent citizens are unable to differentiate between which sites are a credible source of information or services. Such sites, lure people to sign up on their platform in which they use to harvest passwords and confidential data. Since people are more likely to use one email account for multiple sign-ups, the information provided can be used to access personal data and possibly lead to losing money to fraudsters.
Cybercriminals are exploiting people’s emotional instability caused by the disruptions and frustrations of the Pandemic. End –users provide the weakest link to cyber-attacks as they always fall prey to crafty fraudsters with complex social engineering techniques. Individuals therefore cannot easily detect possible attacks. The Pandemic has provided a context in which Crimes are effortlessly committed.
With the Pandemic, Cybercrime has evolved in its dynamic to capture the available opportunities both at a personal level and by targeting large corporate and government institutions. The Pandemic has created a favorable context in which Crimes are committed. Cyber-attacks are occurring at catastrophic rates making it an imminent threat to companies, governments, and individuals. It is, therefore, recommendable for organizations to increase their investment in research and security proportionately to the sector’s growth.
Finally, to ensure a long-term solution, the public must be educated on ways to detect and actions to take when they feel their systems have been compromised. Cyber Security is the responsibility of everybody be it corporates, institutions, governments, and individuals.