Considering the mass shift to work-from-home, IT infrastructure is under immense pressure to perform securely for different industries. The COVID-19 crisis has also given rise to a prime opportunity for hackers. 


How can we improve endpoint security for our highly regulated industries, such as financial and healthcare? 


In many cases, workers are using their own devices, and therefore may be inadvertently bringing their malware to their work networks.


Cybersecurity Stakes are High


Some workers may be happy to relinquish their office dynamics, and others may be mourning the loss of routine. One thing is for sure, some cybercriminals are taking advantage of the massive shift to work-from-home and celebrating their data plunder. 


Same Malware, Different Name


While the majority of headlines and even some security firms are reporting a huge spike in cyber attacks since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft is telling a different story. According to Microsoft’s report, hackers are opportunistically utilizing existing malware infrastructure and repurposing it with COVID-19 lures. 


For example, when Canada announced the release of it’s tracing app, COVID Alert, hackers quickly released their versions on the now-defunct domains; tracershield[.]ca and covid19tracer[.]ca, as a spoof that installs the CryCryptor ransomware on mobile devices. These are old tricks that are catching new victims who are more vulnerable and gullible due to the pandemic. 


Microsoft’s report points out that the COVID-19 themed attacks spiked in early March, coinciding with the worldwide spike in viral infections. Shortly afterward, they ebbed to a normal pace, but this is due to multiple factors, namely security professionals upping their defense. 


Same WFH and VPN Problems, Different Days


There has always been concern about letting employees mix their work between company-provided devices and their personal computers and smartphones. Worth noting, when 80-90% of employees are suddenly utilizing a VPN, it gets bogged down in a hurry. How can the office exodus remain safe and productive? Here are a few tips to maintain security and speed:


  • Don’t put all your remote security apples into one VDI or VPN basket. Let employees store certain data locally for quick and safe access. 


  • Keep the most sensitive data off the internet entirely. 


  • Tread lightly on requiring one device for highly sensitive data and another for unmanaged or general information. Not only will it slow down productivity, but is very difficult for IT Security teams to manage. 


WFH Security Misconceptions


Make sure your remote team is aware of these common security misconceptions when it comes to working from home.


  • Zoom Meetings - the dialogue of choice for many companies after the pandemic hit. Is it safe? That’s debatable. However, it’s not end-to-end encrypted, which inherently exposes your conversations and data. Do your research when selecting video conferencing software. We even witnessed Zoom recently take some heat for releasing data to Facebook without consent from the iOS app. 


  • VPNs - are not the reliable cure-all for remote security woes that some believe. When too many people in your company utilize the same VPN or licensing, there are bandwidth and security issues. Is your VPN always up-to-date with patches? If not, this is a big backdoor (or should we say front door?) for hackers. 


  • Personal Devices vs. Company - it seems obvious, but personal devices carry more risk than company. However, company devices that are being utilized from home long-term should be re-evaluated regularly for security reasons. Taking precautions like two-factor authentication, encryption, auto-backups, content filtering, and security monitoring is essential. 


  • Phish in a Barrel - there has been a lot of phishing attempts and some are easy to spot, and others are incredibly deceptive. Don’t rely on your employee’s judgment, keep phishing top of mind, and your team regularly updated and educated on the latest known attempts. 

More than ever, people are experiencing fear, anxiety, and uncertainty, to say the least, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This results in a population with their normal defenses down. It’s easy to think your team is too savvy for the old tricks, but under a new guise and during these difficult times, it’s happening. 


At Emerge, we help our clients not only bolster their security infrastructure including all the loose endpoints, but we also help with employee education and best practices initiatives. If you’re looking for some guidance and dependable network security for your WFH team, contact the IT security experts at Emerge at 859-746-1030.