RiskHedge Report editor Stephen McBride believes that the covid19 pandemic is laying the groundwork for the largest cyber-attack in history.
In a new column in Forbes, he predicts that the attack will come sometime in the next six months. In his report, McBride gives some tips on best practices to keep your network safe, but most of the damage will be done to government and corporate networks, not personal computers. Still, it is always good to practice proper cybersecurity with all of your home and work devices. He discussed something called an "attack surface" which is essentially how many computers are connected to a network. The more computers that are connected to the network, the larger the attack surface, meaning the network is at a greater risk of attack and infiltration.
McBridge points to the unique situation that many companies and governments around the world have been facing during the pandemic, allowing employees to work at home. Since this disruption happened mostly without warning, companies were not able to set up the proper protocols that are needed to safely have employees work from home. What this means is that every company's "attack surface" has drastically increased now that so many people are working from home, leaving the door open for hackers.
Around the world, millions of workers are now using personal laptops on unsecured home internet connections to access sensitive files that could be attractive to hackers. Furthermore, since most companies' computers are all connected through the same network, the hackers would only need to infiltrate one computer in order to gain access to the entire network.
This may sound strange, but things like this happen all the time, to some of the largest corporations or most notable government agencies in the world. For example, the largest military weapons contractor in the United States, Lockheed Martin, was infiltrated by hackers not long ago, and in that case, the breach happened because remote workers were targetted to gain access to the network.
Since the pandemic began, numerous high profile organizations have been affected by cyber breaches. According to data released to the public, the US Department of Health has been attacked multiple times this year, and attacks against the World Health Organization have more than doubled since the outbreak began.
According to the cyber intelligence firm CYFIRMA, cyber threats related to coronavirus shot up 600% from February to March. It is important to note that these hacks that have been revealed to the public are just the ones that we know about, there are likely far more cases of cyber breaches that the public is unaware of. In some cases, the hackers may have accomplished their missions without getting detected, and in other cases, corporations or government agencies could be choosing to stay silent about breaches to their systems so they can avoid the bad press. Either way, it is important for people to be vigilant in the coming months, especially if they are connected to a large or sensitive network.