If you have been following the security news, you will have seen that there has been a major increase in COVID-19 themed cyberattacks targeting remote workers. Cybercriminals are exploiting fear about the virus and the somewhat chaotic switch from mostly office-based workers to having virtually the entire workforce working remotely. Understandably given the speed at which businesses have had to adjust, vulnerabilities have been introduced.
The attack surface has increased considerably as a result of largely at-home workforces and cybercriminals have taken advantage. According to research conducted by Darktrace, in the United Kingdom, prior to the COVID-19 lockdown being imposed, around 12% of malicious email traffic was targeting home workers. The volume increased to around 60% after 6 weeks of lockdown, which clearly demonstrates the extent to which remote workers are being targeted.
The types of malicious emails being sent to remote workers have been incredibly diverse. Cybercriminals are using all manner of lures to get remote workers to click links and disclose their credentials or open malicious attachments and trigger malware downloads. Financial fraud has also increased with BEC gangs using the COVID-19 pandemic to fraudulently obtain funds from company accounts.
Early on in the pandemic when information about the virus was thin on the ground, emails were being sent offering important advice about preventing infection along with fake updates on cases. As the pandemic progressed and the effects started to be felt, cybercriminals started sending fake requests for donations to charities to help individuals adversely affected by COVID-19. As governments implemented furlough schemes and set up funds to help the employed and self-employed, campaigns were conducted that linked to websites that claimed to offer grants, allow workers to choose to be furloughed, or apply for financial support.
Attacks have targeted the tools that are being used by remote workers to connect to their offices and communicate with colleagues, with the likes of Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, and other corporate messaging systems being spoofed to infect users with malware. File sharing platforms have similarly been spoofed to get employees to disclose their credentials. Darktrace’s data shows there has been a massive increase in spoofing attacks during lockdown, increasing from around one fifth of attacks before lockdown to 60%.
It is not only cybercrime groups that are conducting attacks. State-sponsored hacking groups have similarly been taking advantage of the pandemic to steal sensitive data, including the latest COVID-19 research data on potential cures, vaccines, and treatments to further the response efforts in their own countries.
What is not always clear from the new reports is how the increase in cyberattacks targeting remote workers has translated into actual data breaches. Are these attacks succeeding or are companies managing to thwart the attacks and keep the hackers at bay?
There is a lag between intrusions being detected, breaches being confirmed, and announcements being made but it appears that many of these attacks are succeeding. In April, the International Association of IT Asset Managers issued a warning that while a rise in data breaches was to be expected as a result of the pandemic, the number of incidents was actually far higher than anticipated. It is also clear that ransomware attackers have stepped up their efforts to attack businesses. Even organizations on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 have not been spared.
Threat actors have taken advantage of the opportunities offered by the pandemic. It is up to businesses to make sure their security measures are sufficient to thwart attacks. Combating cyberattacks on remote workers requires additional security measures to be implemented. One measure that is often overlooked but can greatly improve protection is DNS filtering.
A DNS filter provides protection against the web-based component of cyberattacks and is an important measure to implement to improve defenses against phishing and malware. Even with robust email security defenses in place, some messages will arrive in inboxes. A DNS filter provides an extra layer of protection by preventing users from visiting malicious websites linked in emails.
When a malicious link is clicked, a DNS query is made, and a DNS lookup is performed to find the IP address of the URL. DNS filtering ensures that the IP address is not returned if the URL is malicious. A DNS filter such as WebTitan also allows IT teams to block malware downloads, monitor internet activity, and carefully control the types of websites their remote users can access on corporate devices.
If you have not yet implemented a DNS filtering solution and would like more information on how it can protect against cyberattacks on remote workers, give the TitanHQ team a call today.
Cybersecurity for remote workers has never been so important. At-home employees are being targeted by hackers who see them as low hanging fruit and an easy entry point into corporate networks.
The threat faced by businesses that have rapidly shifted to a largely at-home workforce should not be underestimated. With everyone working in the office, within the protection of the corporate firewall, IT departments could keep hackers at bay. Any employees that were authorized to work from home could be provided with a laptop that had security protections appropriate for the increased level of risk.
Moving the entire workforce from the office to attics, basements, kitchens, and spare rooms in a very short space of time has meant corners have had to be cut. Many SMBs have had to adapt quickly and have not had enough time to provide additional training to their at-home employees. The laptop computers now being used by their employees have had to be provisioned quickly and they lack the protection required for at home working. Some businesses are even allowing personal computers to be used out of necessity. Cybercriminals have been rubbing their hands with glee at the new opportunities and the ease at which they can attack businesses.
Lockdowns are now being lifted and people are being encouraged to go back to work, but further spikes in cases are likely as a result and with social distancing in the office problematic for many businesses, many employees will still need to work from home. To reduce the risk of those employees falling for a phishing scam or inadvertently downloading malware or ransomware, additional cybersecurity measures should be implemented.
You will more than likely have an email security solution to block the most common attack vector, but additional layers of security will greatly improve your security posture, one of the most important of which is a web filtering solution. A web filter stops your employees from visiting malicious websites, such as those used for phishing or malware distribution. When an attempt is made to visit a malicious website – through a link in a phishing email, a web redirect, or general web browsing – rather than being allowed to visit the website, employees will be directed to a local block page that explains the site cannot be accessed as it violates your internet usage policies.
A web filter can also be used to stop employees from using their work laptop for personal use by blocking websites by category, and as a control against shadow IT to prevent unauthorized software downloads.
WebTitan Cloud will allow you to improve cybersecurity for remote workers without requiring any software downloads and can be set up and protecting your office staff and remote workers in a matter of minutes.
Join us for our Webinar on Improving Cybersecurity for Remote Workers
If you are reading this before Thursday May 21, 2020, then you can find out more about how WebTitan Cloud can protect your employees and corporate network from attack by joining us on for our webinar.
Title: Keeping your Remote Workers TWICE as secure with SpamTitan & WebTitan
Date: Thursday, May 21, 2020
Time: 11:00-11:30 CDT
If you missed the webinar, just give us a call and we will be happy to answer any questions you have, explain the benefits of WebTitan Cloud, arrange a product demonstration, and help get you filtering the internet and blocking web-based threats.
TitanHQ is hosting a webinar on Thursday May 21, 2020 and will be explaining how you can double protection for your remote workers and better protect them against phishing, malware, ransomware, and zero-day attacks. The webinar is ideal for current SpamTitan customers, prospective customers, Managed Service Providers and small- to medium-sized enterprises.
During the webinar you’ll find out why it is so important to protect against both the email- and web-based components of cyberattacks and you will discover more about an important layer that you can ad to your security defenses that will allow you to significantly reduce susceptibility to a cyber attack and data breach.
TitanHQ will explain how cybercriminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic and are targeting remote workers. You will also discover more about the features and security layers of WebTitan Security and how this DNS-based web filtering solution allows you to manage user security at multiple locations.
Most cyberattacks have an email and web-based component – Find out how WebTitan serves as a vital layer of security to block phishing attacks, malware and ransomware downloads.
Learn why WebTitan is the leading web security option for the Managed Service Provider who service the SMB and SME market.
Join TitanHQ for the webinar, which will be attended by:
Derek Higgins, Engineering Manger TitanHQ
Eddie Monaghan, Channel Manager TitanHQ
Marc Ludden, Strategic Alliance Manager TitanHQ
Kevin Hall, Senior Systems Engineer at Datapac
Title: Keeping your Remote Workers TWICE as secure with SpamTitan & WebTitan