Technology

The new normal in cybersecurity – ransomware, phishing and cyber security

When the COVID-19 pandemic began its tyranny, cyber criminals found a chance of a lifetime. Majority of organizations, state bodies, educational institutions, software companies and other white collar firms shifted towards a remote working model.

To control the contagion, numerous in-person visits to doctors and clinics and hospitals went online, on numerous health apps. Moreover, the transition from physical at-office work to online work led to security gaps that were eventually inevitable.

Personal devices as well as consumer broadband devices have somehow undermined the corporate security system each company has. Unsafe practices of users and security patches that were often overlooked paved the way for online security vulnerabilities to walk around in the digital environment.

At the same time, the public is often in a confused and worried state, and this makes them easy targets for phishing attacks. As a consequence, phishing attacks, DDoS and ransomware attacks made an upward surge which continued in the current year.

Last year, more than 50% of firms in much of the developed world (notably the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Sweden, Russia, Germany) saw a rise in ransomware attacks. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic was blamed for creating a rise of 238% in cyber attacks carried out on banks and other financial companies. There has also been a rise in phishing attacks too.

What is the reason behind rising Ransomware Attacks and Associated Costs?

The COVID-19 pandemic unfortunately drove an upward surge in ransomware and the manner it happened was quick and quite dramatic too. Ransomware attacks rose by 148% in March last year, and the average amount of payments made amoundted up to USD$ 170,000.

Recently in May, the United States of America was reeling from a ransomware strike which shut down Colonial Inc. fuel pipeline. With the rise in ransomware attacks likely resulting in more opportunities for hacker, in combination with the rising effectiveness of phishing attacks against news savvy users; a change in tactics of hackers played a vital role.

Earlier attacks usually focused on traditional ransomware model of encryption-payment-decryption, hackers today are looking to earn more via data exfiltration, data theft and then offering it for sale on the black market.

Corporations, healthcare systems, healthcare firms, municipalities,  universities and other healthcare institutions were victims of ransomware, as determined by experts from a Kansas City based DDoS Protection services provider.

These attacks resulted in the growth of data exfiltration which is compounding the considerable damage done by a ransomware attack (which is more than the ransom itself). This potentially includes:

  • Customer policy violations.
  • Loss of corporate data.
  • Massive regulatory files stolen.
  • Increased system downtime.
  • Reduced efficiency of web hosting and protection systems.
  • A massive rise in response costs.
  • Damage to reputation of brands, organizations and businesses.

All of this brings total global costs of phishing and ransomware attacks to above USD$ 1 Trillion annually.

Data protection placed in perimeter security using Zero Trust

Today’s era is of the public cloud, mobile devices, mobile technologies and remote working. The notion of perimeter security is becoming obsolete. Why? Because organizations have understood the kind of attackers they are facing, and among them are trusted insiders who fail to realize they’re helping cybercrooks.

Awareness and education do play a key role in helping reduce the risk of ransomware and phishing attacks by quite a margin, a single moment of complacency in cybersecurity can cause monumental damage to a business.

Hence, anyone can be assumed to pose a security risk. Businesses and organizations alike must create a foolproof and robust cyber defense strategy. Zero Trust basically is a notion where no one and nothing should be trusted, whether they are inside the network or outside the network, having access to computer systems.

Principles of Zero Trust

Here are the principles of Zero Trust:

  • Moving beyond conventional thinking (inside vs outside) and completely overhauling cyber defense via secure micro-parameters using multiple network defense points.
  • Implementation of the ability to control, inspect and restrict network traffic travelling in any direction within an organization.
  • Users are subjected to check and balance each time they cross into a different network area or whenever they access a new set of resources. Such is done to verify their needs and privileges.
  • Ensuring the timeliness of the process and preventing privileges from exceeding by timely revoking and refreshing credentials and access of users.
  • Continuous monitoring of who is accessing the internet and the level of risk present in those activities.

 

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