COVID-19 and the increased incidence of cyber attacks

By Rafael Variz

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Recently, Fortinet, a leading developer of cybersecurity solutions, recently released data that identifies a 131% increase in the occurrence of cyber attacks in March, compared to the same period in 2019. The same increase is expected in April.

Also according to data collected by the company, Brazil suffered more than 1.6 billion attacks in the first quarter. The total in Latin America was 9.7 billion.

Cyber attacks are attempts by hackers to demage or destroy a system, which can cause theft of data and sensitive information, bank passwords, identify, extortion, data hijacking, among others.

The most frequent attack is Phishing, theft of online identification, in which the fraudster, through e-mail, websites and applications, impersonates thusted companies to acquire personal data from users, such as financial information, bank details and of cards.

These attacks occur silently, which can make it difficult to identify and promote many problems for companies that use publicly accessible data, whether the organization itself, partners or customers.

Researchers at Panda Security,a company linked to the information security area, released last month the identification of campaings and malicious messages associated with the new conoravirus. This ocurrence is happening mainly in countries like China, Japan, Russia, United States, Italy and Brazil.

The messages containing the virus are apparently from oficial organizations informed about updates of the disease, containing spam and malicious attachments.

Also in this context, the World Health Organization (WHO) has suffered similar attacks since the beginning of the pandemic. The system was not hit, but it put at risk an old system used by active employees, retirees and partners.

The WHO made clear the need for care to prevent cyber attacks and highlighted surveillance when accessing unknown content and possible malicious e-mails.

We can understand that the increase in cyber attacks is due to the greater number of people in their homes, in addition to an advantage in the vulnerability of the current scenario. The very climate of tension created by pandemic is a catalyst for people not to take due care when accessing suspicious content.

Companies had to change their work model, adopting the home office to continue operanting. It is common, and likely, that cybersecurity controls with people at home are not as strict as when they are in the company environment. Consequently, the information technology ecosystem of companies tends to be weakened, this reaquiring greater care by the technical teams, constantly monitoring their services and, as far as possible, applying policies that make the remote home office environment so secure.

Such care must also be taken for the personal use of computers and smartphones. We must pay close attention to the content we access, especially in this period that are using the fragility caused by COVID-19 to intencify the attacks.

Therefore, all attention and care in digital media is important, precautions with your online purchases, disclosure of passwords and personal information on websites and social networks and access to questionable pages are necessary, mainly to avoid future losses.

Rafael Variz is IT Director at HLB Brasil

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