Top Five Sectors Prone To Cyber Threat Amid COVID-19 Lockdown
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he digital ecosystem has risen to become the lifeline of business operations globally amid the pandemic-hit business landscape. Businesses across the spectrum—be it startups or MSMEs—are embracing online tools and technologies to connect with their stakeholders and maintain business continuity in the present, disrupted scheme of things. Against this backdrop, cybersecurity has emerged as a key challenge for industry players across sectors.
Recently, the issue of data privacy and cybersecurity was reinforced when the news of hackers selling Zoom accounts came into light. Zoom had emerged as one of the widely used apps by quarantined users—from private sector employees to teachers and students, among others—to connect with each other amid the lockdown. However, once the security issues emerged, the government of India issued an advisory warning the users from using this app.
The need for cybersecurity amid the pandemic and beyond
This is just one of the many instances of the attack campaigns that mal-actors are deploying to compromise the cybersecurity of not just individuals but also enterprises. When we consider that the most vulnerable industries such as healthcare and financial services are relying increasingly on remote work models due to the viral outbreak, the importance of cybersecurity becomes paramount. Hence, it is no wonder that new-age enterprises are sincerely considering to include cybersecurity budgets as an integral part of their capital expenditure not just at present but also after the crisis blows over.
While it is difficult to pinpoint industries which are more likely to be affected by this flurry of attempted breaches, the logistics, healthcare, e-commerce, banking, and financial sectors look to be the worst-hit while accounting for a majority of the attacks. Here’s taking a look at top five sectors.
It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that healthcare organizations and medical centers are under most strain, being on the front-burner as healthcare professionals endeavour to save lives. The healthcare crisis has been compounded by the shortages of personal protective equipment and other key medical supplies including medicines. And mal-actors are exploiting this situation to deliver malware payloads at medical facilities to compromise the infrastructure and demand hefty ransom to restore functionality. Cases of PPE, medicines and test kits, among others, are being sold at astronomical prices by mal-actors have also surfaced.
In fact, the pandemic has seen a spike in phishing and malware attacks riding on the COVID-19 pitch to target unsuspecting users. Disguised as information from established organisations such as WHO or the government, cyber-attackers are embedding malicious files, ransomware, and other malware to bait users into downloading harmful content on their personal devices and, through them, target enterprise applications.
As per the pre-coronavirus estimates, the cybersecurity industry as a whole was expected to grow at a CAGR of 12 per cent from $183 billion in 2019 to $230 billion by 2021, with the endpoint security market segment being the fastest contributor to its growth. While the estimations are sure to be affected by the pandemic situation, one thing can be said for certain: enterprises and individuals alike will need to practice robust cybersecurity hygiene in order to prevent playing host to increasingly sophisticated threat campaigns. With more and more remote employees using unsecured public networks to access enterprise applications, a robust security posture is the need of the hour.
Since the onset of the crisis and the strangulation of physical mobility, people as well as enterprises have become increasingly reliant on online banking and fintech offerings to meet their financial requirements. In sync with their modus operandi, cyber-criminals are taking advantage of this fact to deploy phishing campaigns and steal critical data of users who have come online to conduct remote transactions.
As in the aforementioned case, people are using digital means to buy essential goods and services online in a bid to reduce their social contact environment and observe social distancing. Hence, users are perennially at risk of being targeted by mal-actors looking to target unsuspecting users to steal their private information or hold their personal devices to ransom.
Aiming to curb the trajectory of the viral outbreak, the government is also promoting the use of digital tools to monitor and generate insights regarding the spread of COVID-19 across India. To achieve this, the government advocated for the use of Aarogya Setu application. However, an ethical hacker recently claimed to have identified security loopholes in the app. As a remedial measure, NITI Aayog has recently on-boarded eigth startups from across the country to bolster India’s technological stance against the viral outbreak.
Considering these points, it is apparent that organizations need to revamp existing network security posture and adopt new technologies that are compatible with evolving circumstances. The scope of cybersecurity is not limited to remote access, however. Since, the economic effect of the outbreak is touted to be severe, digitization and the creation of specialized ecosystems is key to reduce trade costs globally. And robust cybersecurity measures are the backbone of an efficient digitisation model.