I don’t think anyone will dispute that we’re living through an unprecedented time.  The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting almost all areas of our lives including how we work, play and shop. One of the things that hasn’t changed is that security threats are rampant, and many are taking advantage of COVID-19 specifically.  What should Chief Security Officers (CSO’s) and other computer security professionals be considering in this unique moment?

There has been a dramatic increase in all the normal scams and attacks but now using COVID-19 as a keyword to lure people in. There has been an increase in spam and phishing attacks using this approach. Many of these are being used to entice clicks that spread malware. These attacks will often attempt to impersonate health organisations or charities.

Governments have been introducing enhanced unemployment benefits and other economic stimulus programs. Malicious attackers are exploiting confusion related to these programs along with the real desperation of folks trying to get this relief, to introduce scams offering to help them apply or expedite their requests. These attacks are harvesting personal information or extorting payments from the victims.

Organisations frequently have existing security protections in place against these types of attacks, including updated spam filters, anti-virus signatures, and message hygiene solutions. However the biggest contribution to safety is to accelerate and update your security communication. Updating your community about the most common threats is practical protection. This is not as easy as it sounds without up to date and relevant information about trending threats, though. Have you got an internal procedure for monitoring the threat landscape and are you getting this information from your ICT provider?

COVID-19 has forced organisations to embrace working from home. Now there are more workstations and mobile devices that are no longer under the enterprise’s control. They will, however, be accessing and potentially storing the organisations data. Having a solid VPN, gateway or remote server solution is a critical to safely setting up work from home capability. This will at least satisfy the need to protect information in transit, but it doesn’t prevent unwanted attention from COVID-19 savvy attackers.

As an organisation, consider the learnings that you can incorporate in your overall disaster readiness planning. Many organisations have considered the most likely areas of concern, such as fire, severe weather or theft. Organisations in the post SARS and COVID era need to include pandemic planning as a part of their scenario planning. Health experts are warning about a COVID-19 resurgence later in the year, and the potential for more outbreaks in the future exists.

The good news is whether you had a plan for this or you didn’t, there is an opportunity to harvest the learnings and incorporate them into your disaster planning. Perform a solid debrief and document what worked well (and most importantly, what didn’t). What surprised you? There is an opportunity to save the future you from having to re-learn these lessons.

These will be trying times for organisations, and it’s tempting to let cyber-security considerations take a backseat to the immediate requirements of ‘just surviving’. Jupiter Group has security solutions and expertise that we can provide to help you through this and future challenges. Talk to us about how to prepare your business for the obvious and the unlikely alike.