• Montane PS Staff

COVID-19 Pandemic Leads to Increased Cyber Threat

The COVID-19 pandemic is an immense humanitarian crisis that has also severely affected the global economy, with the almost instantaneous move to working and socialising from home due to the COVID-19 having catastrophic effects on our health and well being as well as severe financial impacts on business. However, there has also been a marked increase in another sinister aspect of human behaviour - cybercrime. Highlighting this, the United Nations' chief of disarmament recently alerted the world that globally, there has been a 600 per cent rise in malicious emails during the pandemic.

In recent weeks, Australian businesses and government entities have been targeted by tailored malicious software (malware) attacks, leading to dramatic reductions in operations and client services and also compromise of staff and customer data and information. Such attacks include Service NSW, Toll, Lion Nathan, and BlueScope Steel; to name but a few. Honda has also been disrupted by an attack that has led to reduced production. Australia's cyber ambassador has also issued a warning to state actors about international cyber attacks seen on health infrastructure overseas.

The reasons for this increase are many and varied, though enablers include working from home and the use of teleconferencing tools (some not as secure as others) management and staff possibly using BYOD equipment that does not contain the same cybersecurity software as work computers and phones, a reliance on virtual private networks to assist with remote working practices, and greater utilisation of email and online banking; all leading to an increased digital footprint and a wider attack surface - and associated opportunities - for cybercriminals.

This increased threat is not confined to medium and large sized businesses; small businesses are also very much as risk, especially with the advent of large-scale malicious email and text message campaigns. The Australian Cyber Security Centre has previously warned households and businesses to remain alert for threats during the pandemic such as scams and hacking attempts.

How do you protect your precious business and client information? The first step is to determine the criticality of your data, information, systems and operations. You then need to understand and rate the specific threats and risks that are relevant to your operations. Gaps in your security posture should then be identified, and vulnerabilities remediated. Finally, entities should have a current and tested business continuity plan in place should a cyberattack be successful.

Unfortunately, the current and emerging cyber threat is unlikely to recede any time soon. Should you require assistance with risk management and business continuity planning, or trusted and respected protective security advice, please contact us via our contacts page or landline phone. Our highly qualified, experienced and background checked staff will be in touch with you as soon as we can.

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