Remote Work 2.0 & The Rise in Cyberattacks

The pandemic and the resulting switch to remote working models has made enterprises and organizations across industries, including even the most highly confidential sectors such as legal, government, and healthcare, depend more than ever upon technology.

In-person meetings have almost entirely been replaced with virtual meetings and working models now rely on digital communications, collaboration tools, and channels. This trend is set to continue long after the threat of the virus has dissipated. The ‘working from home experiment’ proved to many employers that teams can be just as productive when working remotely and virtually together. Accustomed to this new way of working which allows for a better work/life balance, employees now demand more flexibility in how and where they work. The modern workplace, pandemic or not, will unequivocally remain dependent on technology to stay connected.

However, when the pandemic hit, the urgency with which organizations had to shift to remote working models saw secure working environments replaced with home offices that are largely dependent on unsecured networks and devices. Organizations did not have time to update infrastructure, patch vulnerabilities, or evaluate possible security weaknesses. As a result, employees working outside of the confines of perimeter-based security (e.g. firewalls and secure internet) were left exposing more confidential data/information during their day-to-day jobs than ever before.

Cybercriminals saw these mass vulnerabilities and took advantage. Cyberattacks thrived during the pandemic, with a reported 400% increase in attacks in the first four months of 2020, and a 278% increase in leaked U.S. government records.FBI: Covid-19 Cyberattacks Spike 400% in Pandemic – MSSP AlertOnline crimes reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) have…

A lot of these successful attacks were the result of employee mistakes and naivety (such as clicking on phishing emails), but some were also the result of technology vendors — specifically those meant to increase connectivity and communication — making massive security and privacy missteps. Zoom, for example, experienced large-scale interruptions of video conferencing calls by bad actors and pranksters (e.g. “Zoombombing”) and was also exposed for violating privacy rights by conducting undisclosed transfers of user data.

While the pandemic has exacerbated the problem of cybercrime, even when life balances out into some kind of ‘new normal’, the threat of cybercrime will remain immense. According to Cybercrime Ventures, cybercrime threatens to cost the global economy as much as $10.5 trillion by 2025 and the World Economic Forum listed cybercrime as the fourth largest global risk in 2021 (after extreme weather events, livelihood crises, and infectious diseases). Cybercrime is a problem that is here to stay and will continue to damage the health of businesses, critical infrastructure, and governments unless a drastic new approach is taken.

Consequently, organizations in both the private and public sectors have major concerns over data security, privacy, and sovereignty. Not only are they re-evaluating the infrastructures they have in place and the validity of the tools they entrust with their business data, but they are beginning to look more carefully at the tech providers who are handling their data and at the specific technologies their solutions depend upon. Trust is now a key concern and priority.


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