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As More And More Of Us Work Remotely, Big Tech Companies Warn To Stay Vigilant When It Comes To Cyber Security With hundreds of thousands of new variants of malware being created every day, our worry extends beyond the evolution of COVID-19 to the world of cyber security, topping boardroom agendas as we are moving into 2022

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This article has been built in collaboration with HP Inc.

With the enduring COVID-19 pandemic, and the latest omicron variant seemingly wreaking havoc across the globe, employers find themselves yet again at a crossroad, contemplating whether to move their workforce 100% remotely. Opinions about the benefits and effectiveness of working from home differ vastly, but whatever your views may be, what really complicates matters is that hybrid ways of working inevitably mean more endpoints, more remote connections, and more potential for mayhem.

As a result, some of the world's largest tech companies, including HP Inc., have voiced their concerns over cyber security provisions made– particularly those by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). And findings show their concerns are well-founded. A Tripwire survey highlights that a whopping 94% of surveyed cybersecurity pros say they're more concerned about security now than before COVID-19, and 64% say that security visibility is more difficult with employees working remotely. In fact, security risks specifically related to remote work top their lists of concerns.

Beyond COVID-19: the evolution of malware variants

Add to those already staggering numbers that every day 350,000 new version of malware are being created, and you can see why experts would feel the way they do. In fact, the Independent IT Security Institute in Germany estimates that from September 2019 to August 2020 alone six to 18 million new malware variants have been released into the vast internet universe. What is more, the impacts of malware can be devastatingly expensive for companies of any size, with malware related downtime costs averaging US$10,000 per hour.

But how does malware protection actually work? Traditional virus protection operates by checking code against a list of known malware, stopping anything it recognizes. But with hundreds of thousands of new malware variations being are created every day -and many of them use AI to disguise themselves through continuous mutation- detection has become increasingly complicated. If cyberattackers can take down the root of your protections, control of your PCs is wide open, potentially compromising all your data- including sensitive customer data, which could cause additional reputational damage to your company.

Where is the increase coming from? Hacking used to require some expertise. Now, with malware-as-a-service, it's as easy as shopping online. Attackers can just pay ridiculously low fees to buy, host, and distribute targeted, custom malware in online markets- no coding required. And that means it's easier than ever for your organization to become a target.

Image courtesy HP.

Extortionware: the new ransomware?

If that wasn't troubling enough, there is more bad news for SMEs. As the COVID-19 variants are evolving, so are cyber threats. For example, the market has experienced a shift from ransomware attacks to extortionware attacks. While traditionally ransomware gangs would just lock up your sensitive data, holding it hostage until you paid to get it back. Now they're threatening to release it to the world. And lately, this instant destroyer of organizational trust and reputation has been going through the roof, with payments up by 60% from Q1 2021.

Phishing has become more sophisticated

And phishing practices, which have amounted to 22% of all security breaches in 2019, are evolving too. People were getting wise to the standard, old phishing tactics. So those tactics evolved into what's known as "spear-phishing." Gone are the times of far-fetched stories and chronic misspellings that gave clues as to the true nature of a phishing email. Today's sophisticated phishing scams plagiarize language directly from hacked inboxes of friends and colleagues. Fooling a target has never been easier.

You might think simple house-keeping exercises such as regular password changes are enough, but experts believe that password protection isn't enough for business PCs as most hacking-related breaches stem from compromised credentials. From spear-phishing attacks that trick users for login information to bad hygiene practices like weak, shared, and reused passwords.

Protecting yourself

So, what can you do? Experts at HP Inc. maintain that hardware-based security is your best defence, helping you protect, detect, and recover from attacks.

Offering unparalleled levels of security, HP's Endpoint Security Controller is the foundation of the security architecture that protects the HP ProBook 600 series. This physically isolated, cryptographically protected chip houses hardware-enforced, self-healing security features like HP Sure Start, HP Sure Run, and HP Sure Recover. The HP ProBook 600 series is protected by HP Sure Sense, which uses deep-learning neural networks to recognize and defeat never-before seen malware. If malware does slip through, HP Sure Click isolates it in a micro-VM container so that it can't escape- and then destroys it.

By using HP's ProBook 600 series, you protect your PCs -and your network- from unauthorized access with multifactor authentication. The HP ProBook 600 series allows you to configure your PC to require up to three verifications for login, including an optional fingerprint reader and IR camera for facial recognition. These policies are locked in at the hardware level. Take remote control of your PC endpoints with a platform that lets you administer security settings from anywhere. HP Sure Admin gives IT admins a secure digital signature for managing BIOS settings remotely over the network.

End visual hackers' game of I Spy with these built-in privacy tools:

  • HP Privacy Camera, a physical shutter that protects users from surveillance
  • HP Sure View, a one-touch privacy shield that makes the screen unreadable to those nearby

Click here to see how HP ProBook 640 G8 Notebook PCs (3S8T3EA) powered by Intel® Core™ i7 processor can protect your business against endpoint attacks.


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