Cyber crime pandemic triggered by COVID-19 is here to stay

Read time 2min 30sec

Seventy-five percent of IT and security professionals fear further increase in cyber-attacks and exploits as they start to re-open offices, while also maintaining mass remote working. Moreover, over 86% say their greatest IT challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic was moving to mass remote working, and their biggest security concern was maintaining VPN capacity for staff.

These were two of the key findings from a Check point survey of 270 IT and security professionals globally, that showed how organisations managed their cyber security during lockdown, and also listed their security priorities and concerns over the coming months as they move to the ‘new normal.’

Preventing social engineering attacks was cited by 47%, and securing staff endpoints and home networks by 52%.

The survey also revealed that although 75% of respondents said their offices were open again for limited numbers of employees as lockdowns lift, on average, staff are still working four out of five days at home, meaning remote-working vulnerabilities and threats will persist for a long time.

In addition, while 65% of respondents said their organisation blocks unmanaged PCs from corporate VPNs, a mere 29% deploy endpoint security on employees’ home PCs, and only 35% run compliance checks. Less than half (42%) say their company invests in cyber security training.

“This highlights how exposed organisations are to fast-moving, fifth generation cyber-attacks that target remote workers,” the company said.

When talking of the security priorities for the ‘new normal’ over the coming months, 79% of respondents said their main priority is tightening security and preventing attacks as employees continue to work flexibly from home. Some 43% said they plan to implement mobile security solutions, and 39% plan to consolidate their security estates to help eliminate ‘blind spots’ across their enlarged network perimeters.

Looking to the future, when it comes to top cyber security concerns over the next year, more than 75% of respondents said their biggest concern was an increase in cyber-attacks, especially phishing and social engineering exploits. Another 51% said that attacks on unmanaged home endpoints was a concern, followed by attacks against employee mobile devices (33%).

Rafi Kretchmer, VP of product marketing at Check Point Software Technologies, says businesses had to restructure their network and security fabrics practically overnight to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and doing this inevitably meant that security gaps opened up, increasing their attack surface and creating new opportunities for bad actors.

“Now that we are moving towards a ‘new normal’ way of working as lockdowns lift globally, organisations need to close off those security gaps and secure their networks, from employees’ home PCs and mobiles to the enterprise data center, with a holistic, end-to-end security architecture,” he adds.

The COVID-19 pandemic may be on its way out, but the cyber crime pandemic it triggered is here to stay, he ends.

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