The COVID-19 pandemic took all of us by surprise, and as a nation, we’ve paid for it dearly. As of March 2021, the death toll in the USA is well over 500,000, and it’s estimated that about 100,000 businesses that temporarily closed for the pandemic are now entirely out of business. This sad fact has brought about a sobering conclusion: that businesses would need to either adapt to remote work, or die.
Many businesses, however, have flourished with an entirely remote or hybrid work model. However, even in that success, there came challenges. Cybercrimes rose significantly during the pandemic, as the number of unsecured remote desktops rose sharply across the country. Naturally, hackers saw this as a great opportunity, and jumped to the occasion.
With millions of workers at home, businesses everywhere came to realize their cybersecurity networks were seriously lacking, and some have already paid for that neglect. Let’s take a closer look at how a global pandemic made businesses focus on password management and other cybersecurity concerns.
A Rise In Cybercrime
If your business isn’t using the best enterprise password manager already, you might want to when you learn just how much cybercrime has increased since March of 2020. Instead of focusing on SMBs and individuals, hackers moved instead to government institutions and larger corporations. INTERPOL’s analysis reports phishing scams rose 59%, malware/ransomware rose 36%, and malicious domains rose about 22%. The organization also predicts that distributing vaccines will result in an increase in malicious phishing attacks about the vaccine.
This is disturbing for two reasons, the first being that there are so many hackers willing to attack even government organizations. The second being that so many people fall for phishing/social engineering attacks. In Q3 of 2020, phishing attacks were found to have increased by over 25% from Q2. The pandemic created the perfect storm of everyday people who were suddenly forced to work from home and didn’t know much about cybersecurity, and a general sense of panic that made social engineering more effective.
Social engineering is an important discussion point in this argument. These attacks involve psychological manipulation, and they’re more sophisticated than ever. Social engineering attacks can prey on our emotions like empathy and compassion, or our fears. Both work effectively to trick people into opening emails, navigating to websites, and yes—even sending money or giving up passwords.
Imagine someone calls you to tell you that your account is compromised on your ISP account. They need your old username and password to reset everything. You give it to them with no question. After all, the phone number seemed legitimate, and you have noticed some fishy activity on your service account lately.
The attacker has preyed on your fear, and to great effect. By convincing you that your account was at risk already, he persuaded you to hand over valuable information that actually put you in danger.
Remote Teams Are Less Secure (Without Good Habits)
As the pandemic has raged on, it’s become more and more clear that the average person doesn’t understand cybersecurity. People who’ve worked in an office their entire career with an IT team at their backs were now required to work remotely, and IT departments found themselves overwhelmed.
Overall, remote teams proved to be far less secure if they didn’t already have good habits ingrained in their minds. This means creating secure passwords, storing them properly, and not sharing passwords over email or social media. Businesses learned that a simple password can often be the difference between a successful attack and a minor inconvenience.
Teaching your team better password habits only benefits the company in the long run. With stronger passwords, attacks are more difficult to carry out, and the average employee will have a better understanding of their role in the company’s cybersecurity.
As we’re beginning to roll out vaccines and slowly begin the recovery process, many businesses are looking to the future. There’s been a lot of success with remote and hybrid work models, and some businesses plan to stay that way for the foreseeable future. With that being said, cybersecurity needs to remain a top priority, especially for remote workers. The best step toward improving cybersecurity is managing passwords in a more effective way. This means creating strong passwords and reinforcing those habits in employees, as well as using a password manager to keep things locked down.
The Bottom Line
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way we do business, interact with one another, and put our online presence at risk. Hackers are always looking for vulnerabilities, and the first place they usually look is at your passwords. Use a password manager to secure your passwords and take back control of your company’s cybersecurity without spending a small fortune on software.