Cybersecurity continues to be a challenge for businesses of all sizes, especially as workers are shifting to a remote workforce globally.
According to recent research by Promon, the Oslo-based mobile security company which last year revealed flaws in the Home Office’s Brexit app, two-thirds of remote workers in the UK have not been given any cybersecurity training from employers in the past 12 months, while 77% say they aren’t worried about their cybersecurity while working remotely.
Promon’s research into the attitudes towards cybersecurity comes after Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, warned on March 24th that cybercrime in the EU has increased due to the coronavirus outbreak. As the pandemic has forced many more people to work from home, attackers are capitalising on the increased amount of time spent online by carrying out targeted COVID-19-related phishing campaigns which can result in the victim downloading ransomware (malware that encrypts files until a ransom is paid), or attackers gaining access to a victim’s computer.
Examples of such campaigns include a bogus email from HMRC containing a ‘new tax refund programme’ set up by the Government, which, when clicked, directs to a fake webpage which harvests financial and tax information. Another example is a fake email claiming to be from the World Health Organisation, containing an attachment on new coronavirus safety measures. When opened a keylogger is downloaded, which then tracks and records every key that’s pressed on the user’s keyboard, enabling the attackers to secure passwords and other sensitive login information.
The survey also found that 61% of respondents are using personal devices when working remotely, adding an extra layer of concern as many of these are likely to be less secure than corporate-issued ones. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of decreased levels of security on personal devices connected to corporate networks, with successful attacks ringing alarm bells for employers whose sensitive corporate data is now at risk, along with individuals’ personal data, including banking information and login details.
Promon CTO and co-founder Tom Lysemose Hansen comments: “It’s concerning to find that such a large number of workers don’t have the necessary training to spot a potential cyber threat, such as a phishing email or spoofed website, as these are the main ways in which cybercriminals are executing their attacks. Organisations must ensure that staff who are working remotely are doing so in secure environments, whether that’s on personal or corporate devices, and it’s critical that they provide the necessary training and tools to ensure corporate data is protected.”
With the majority of people now working remotely, these worrying statistics show the enormous ‘flaw in the plan’ for many organisations which have left themselves unprepared when it comes to the human factor of cybersecurity – the notion that regardless of security measures in place all it requires is one person opening a link within a malicious email for serious damage to be caused.
According to the survey, 61% of remote workers are using personal devices while working from home, and cybercriminals are taking advantage of decreased levels of security on these devices. Recent examples of criminal campaigns include a bogus email claiming to be from HMRC which directs to a fake webpage that can steal financial information, and a fake email sent from the World Health Organisation, which when opened can result in hackers tracking victims’ keyboard usage.
Commenting on the figures, Javvad Malik, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4, stated: “This is a concerning statistic indeed. The fact that the majority of employees have not received any form of security awareness in training in the last year means they are particularly prone to phishing.
Security awareness is not a once or twice a year activity, rather it needs to be an ongoing program whereby employees are continually reminded of the threats that are present, how to identify, and report them.”
Each successful attack is ringing alarm bells for employers whose sensitive corporate data is now at risk, along with individuals’ personal data, including banking information and login details. So with attacks on the rise, and as security education seems almost non-existent, it is no wonder that cybersecuity is such a challenging battle.
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