As a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, countless professionals worldwide have been compelled to work remotely. As a result, it has opened up a plethora of opportunities for hackers. In fact, many organizations in the United States reported being targeted with phishing emails, phone calls, or text messages, both personally and professionally, while working from home.

How does phishing work? Well, hackers target workers by adding dangerous links in convincingly-designed emails. By clicking, employees unintentionally install keylogging malware on their PCs, giving thieves access to their passwords. Cybercriminals may also get unrestricted access to critical company assets and networks by impersonating a genuine employee. Suspected abnormal user behavior, such as massive data downloads or after-hours activity, may be identified and handled promptly with IT consulting services.

Nonetheless, employers are increasingly seeking remote employees for several reasons. Many individuals work from home using their own devices. In addition, one out of every four poll respondents admitted to sharing work passwords with third parties and acquaintances. With all this in mind, perhaps it’s time for network audit services.

Remote employees are an ongoing target

COVID-19 lockdowns have compelled millions of employees worldwide to work remotely because many businesses were unprepared for security threats, roughly a quarter of companies incurred unexpected expenses as a result of security breaches and malware.

Organizations using outdated security protocols, such as virtual private networks (VPNs), will be targeted. Because many businesses were forced to close during the epidemic, many individuals relied on VPN technology to work remotely. This puts them in danger since hackers may attack unpatched VPNs with ransomware.

Unfortunately, cyberthreats to healthcare systems may also result in fatalities: Given a large number of COVID-19 patients, hospitals are prime targets for hackers who see this as an ideal opportunity to keep them hostage by crippling their computer systems. Hospitals that lack sufficient cybersecurity measures may become ideal targets.

Invariably, more security breaches are almost certain to occur in the banking sector. With the advent of 5G technology in 2021, hackers will have an edge, requiring better cyber security measures in the financial sector.

Further, as a consequence of the pandemic, businesses' investments in artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing technology will accelerate: The COVID-19 epidemic has hastened the already well-established shift to remote employment. Thus, organizations must strive to better adapt their cybersecurity solutions as part of this shift.

The number of individuals who are vulnerable to data theft will skyrocket. With more individuals using the internet and many more working from home, the danger of data exposure is more severe than ever. Businesses will need to adopt different security procedures and partner with an IT consulting services partner to minimize risk.

What methods do threat actors use to get access to your network?

Footprint analysis or survey: The first step for a network hacker is usually footprint analysis or reconnaissance. The hacker does footprint analysis or reconnaissance to learn about the target network. Reconnaissance or footprint analysis refers to the process of mapping the addresses, devices, operating systems, and applications running on the target network.

Reconnaissance or footprint analysis enables attackers to design an attack approach based on known vulnerabilities and configuration problems in the target network.

Attackers make extensive use of publicly accessible internet information, such as DNS lookups to identify the target network's name and IP address, WHOIS information to discover contact information for name server names, and so on.

Launch attack: After doing a footprint study or reconnaissance on the target network, the hacker gains valuable information. The next step is to conduct an attack on the target network using the discovered vulnerabilities. If the hacker got access as an ordinary, non-privileged user, the following activity is to provide administrator rights to the account.

Once within the internal network, the cyber thief may get access to additional servers and devices. Other data, such as running programs, operating systems, user IDs, and passwords, will be gathered.

Install back doors: After gaining access to the system and gathering the necessary data, the cybercriminal will attempt to install and set up back doors or remote-control hacking tools to obtain the future permit. To maintain future access to compromised computers, the hacker may use backdoor software.

Hide footprints: After performing the attack and installing back door software, the hacker typically conceal the attack from administrators. Hackers employ a variety of methods to do this. For instance, by removing log files.

Finally, hackers will exploit vulnerable networks. They may steal or destroy data on the target network, bring down servers, or learn from its design to attack another company.

What are some shocking data breach statistics?

  • Cybercrime is more lucrative than the illicit drug trade on a worldwide scale.Every year, the illicit drug trade is estimated to generate about $400 billion in profit. To give you a sense of scale, in 2018, hackers earned about $600 billion.
  • 66% of compromised companies expressed doubts about their ability to recover.
  • Every second, hackers steal 75 records.
  • The United States' cybersecurity budget in 2019 was $14.98 billion.
  • Every 39 seconds, a hacking assault occurs. By the time the typical individual posts a selfie on Instagram, the following cyberassault has already occurred.
  • Traditional firewall and antivirus protection is considered outdated or useless by 73% of black hat hackers.
  • 75% of companies do not have a solid cyberattack response strategy in place.

Why do hackers prey on networks?

When reviewing your cybersecurity strategy, it may be helpful to understand why a hacker may choose your company or organization as a target. Threat actors are motivated by various factors, and you may be better prepared if you know what drives them, particularly your company. A variety of reasons may drive hackers, including the following:

Of course, money plays a significant role in why hackers do what they do. Cyber thieves may profit from their efforts in multiple ways. To illustrate, hackers may employ phishing to get credit card information. They may potentially get access to a computer, install ransomware, lock it, and then demand payment to release it. Another method is to hijack a website and replace legitimate web pages with spam sites that urge visitors to make a purchase.

Personal data theft
Cybercriminals target businesses for many reasons, including gaining access to sensitive or private information. Credit card information, customer lists, and intellectual property acquired via corporate espionage are examples of this.

Resource utilization
Hackers will sometimes attack a system in a non-obvious manner. They may want to seize control of the system's resources. A cybercriminal, for example, might get into a network and use computer resources to mine Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

Unfortunately, a threat actor may target your network for many reasons, including sabotage. This may be entirely personal -- a dissatisfied individual, such as a former employee or client, could be enraged with a business employee. A group of hackers may decide to destroy your organization due to their devotion to a cause (whether just or not).

On a larger scale, a foreign country might try to hack into a network for political purposes. In addition, unethical business rivals may hack into your system with the intent of causing harm to your company.

For fun
Finally, some hackers do it for the sake of having fun. They're searching for a challenge or a way to pass the time, and your network becomes a target due to its visibility.

For all of these reasons and more, having strong network security in place is essential.

How will remote work impact your network in 2021 and 2022?

In 2020, the way we all worked and lived had changed dramatically due to (or not as a result of) the coronavirus pandemic. Working from home is increasingly becoming the norm rather than the exception. As businesses of all sizes developed, less-than-secure technology was employed to allow remote work, sometimes inevitably. According to most cybersecurity experts, phishing attacks will continue to be a problem in 2022, with many of these efforts aimed at remote employees.

Attacks by phishers
Remote employees will be vulnerable to phishing attempts, so educate them to identify and reject emails requesting critical personal information or company credentials.

Decommissioned VPNs
In 2022, one of the most severe cybersecurity risks will be outdated VPN networks that link distant employees to their home workplaces. At the height of the coronavirus epidemic, many of these systems were quickly updated or scaled to accommodate additional remote employees. These VPN solutions may have significant security flaws, allowing a hostile hacker to infiltrate your whole network with malware.

Cyber risks
As an organization, you must be able to rely on fundamentally secure access to all consumer and business-sensitive data at all times while also adhering to all applicable market regulations, legislation, and company policy. Cost-cutting measures are often considered, particularly when IT teams are expected to deliver higher levels of innovation, security, and optimization than ever before. That is the most urgent issue confronting today's CTOs, CIOs, and IT executives.

Has your network been targeted?

If anything goes wrong and your business is hacked, your already overburdened IT team will go above and above to restore impacted services and security as soon as possible. These kinds of incidents may serve as a terrifying wake-up call, calling everyone's attention to the company's unusually high susceptibility to cyberattacks.

Are your IT staff members knowledgeable about cybersecurity? Are they up to date on the most recent safety discoveries, methods, and technology? IT security is a specialist subject that requires continuous education and training. Skilled and committed IT security experts are exorbitantly priced and challenging to find for many businesses.

Having access to the network audits and the latest in cybersecurity technologies is a significant benefit and motivation to engage with an IT consulting services partner.

One of the primary advantages of working with an MSP is the breadth of their cybersecurity knowledge, which many businesses lack in-house. If you outsource this to a cybersecurity services vendor, your network will be adequately protected and preserved. Reputable MSPs keep their trained personnel updated on industry changes and cyber risks.Organizations that outsource their security to an MSP have a greater chance of surviving a breach than those that depend only on their internal security staff.

Final thought

Because of our vast technical expertise, we can create security policies and solutions that adapt to your company's changing problems. Our skilled cybersecurity team assists you in lowering the danger of modern-day attacks. SSI is a reliable partner for businesses of all sizes and industries concerning network security. If you'd like to learn more about what we can do for your business, please contact one of our experienced engineers or specialists.

SSI offers a broad range of IT management services due to the skill of our IT specialists. Find out more or get a custom proposal here!