How COVID-19 Impacted Rates of Ransomware Attacks

How COVID-19 Impacted Rates of Ransomware Attacks
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It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on businesses around the world. The pandemic disrupted almost all the industries across the globe, including manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, retail, and more. Companies saw a big dip in their business for almost two years. While the shift turned on how to reduce the impact of COVID-19, one area that’s often overlooked is how the pandemic has impacted rates of ransomware attacks.

Ransomware attacks are a type of cyberattack in which hackers gain access to a company’s systems and then demand a ransom in exchange for releasing the data they’ve taken. Ransomware can occur through several means. A common method used by attackers is phishing emails. These emails contain malicious attachments, and the system gets attacked when the user clicks on them.

Another method is drive-by downloading. When a user visits an unsecured website, the malicious files get downloaded without the visitor’s knowledge and corrupt the whole system.

These attacks can be devastating for businesses, as they can result in the loss of critical data and downtime. First, the employees are not able to work due to the attack, resulting in a wastage of time and resources. Second, the demand for ransom puts an extra load on the company.

Since COVID started and even after, there has been a rampant uptick in the volume of ransomware attacks. Let’s look at how it has changed the landscape of ransomware.

  1. More People Are Working From Home

Since the pandemic started, more and more people have been working from home in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This increase in remote work has made it easier for hackers to target individuals, as they are often using personal devices that are not as well protected as company systems. Organizations have a dedicated IT team that frequently checks and tests the systems for any malicious files. They scan the systems and delete infected files to prevent attacks. And it’s not only limited to the device; the IT team also checks the networks and implements security measures to avoid ransomware attacks.

In addition, people working from home use unsecured Wi-Fi networks, which leaves them and all the platforms they are plugged into vulnerable to attack. Hackers take advantage of the unsecured network and break in to infect the systems.

  1. Hackers Are Using COVID-19 as a Way to Exploit Fears

The fear of COVID-19 is known to everyone. People were uncertain about the cure, and they were looking for treatments from online sources. Why? Because they were confined to their homes due to lockdown and one of the few sources to get information about what was happening around the world was the Internet. Hackers saw that as an advantage and used it to target unsecured systems.

Since the pandemic started, hackers have been using COVID-19 as a way to exploit people’s fears. They have sent out phishing e-mails that claim to be from credible sources such as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These e-mails often contain attachments or links that infect the recipient’s device with malware. In some cases, these e-mails even offer fake cures or prevention methods in order to get people to click on them.

  1. Companies Are Cutting Corners on Security

Companies Are Cutting Corners On Security

Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, many companies are cutting corners when it comes to security in order to save money. Companies are struggling to manage their operating costs, and security is probably one of the last things that come to their mind. So, they started neglecting the security measures. This includes things like not patching software vulnerabilities, not updating security systems, and not investing in employee training. Negligence on the security front proves to be a costly affair for companies as these cuts make it easier for hackers to target these companies, as they are more likely to have vulnerabilities that can be exploited. And this, in turn, leads to companies losing more money to pay ransomware settlements.

  1. There Is an Increase in M&A Activity

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity. This is because many companies are struggling financially and are looking for ways to cut costs. So, if a company has a scarcity of resources and others have to lay out employees because of financial instability, both can balance out and succeed in these difficult times. But, it becomes challenging on the security front. When two companies merge, they often have to consolidate their systems, which can create vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. Incompatibilities in the security measures can prove harmful for both, resulting in cyber-attacks or ransomware attacks.

In addition, there is often a lot of confusion during an M&A (Merger & Acquisitions), which can make it difficult for companies to detect and respond to attacks.

  1. Employees Are Under More Stress

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased stress levels for many employees. This is due to things like job insecurity, working from home, and homeschooling children. They feel burnout. This stress can make employees more likely to make mistakes, such as clicking on a phishing e-mail or downloading malware. In addition, stressed employees may be more likely to take shortcuts when it comes to security, which can also leave the company vulnerable to attack.

Stay Safe in the Post-COVID Digital World

As the world continues to tremble from the aftershocks of a pandemic that left it crippled for months on end, hackers are taking perfect advantage of the instability in work and life to sneak in more ransomware attacks. In 2021, ransomware was estimated to have cost the world $20 billion. However, there have been just as many responses from digital security companies, providing new ways to face and respond to this increased threat. With the right digital security plans and proper cybersecurity awareness, you can reduce the chances of your company getting hit and succumbing to a ransomware attack significantly.

Thank you for reading!