Home-working during pandemic: door closed to coronavirus, door wide open to digital viruses

By 28 October 2020 November 16th, 2020 Blog, Tesorion Immunity

At the moment, we are all working from home on a large scale again in the Netherlands. After the summer break, the number of infections has increased rapidly and meanwhile the motto is: work from home unless you really cannot. As a result, the number of coronavirus infections should drop, however this does leave the door wide open to digital viruses. Hackers know that the computer security of people at home is usually not of the same level, and they anticipate this, as well as the uncertainty that many people experience these days. During the summer, we had already noticed that this does not only have disastrous consequences for an individual computer but can, ultimately, cripple an entire business network.

Record number of malware detections in June

Namely, a device can be infected at home without the user noticing it. A firewall or anti-virus program is not always enough. And then we do not even mention the number of people who solely rely on just the firewall. When the computer returns to the business network, it often has access to the surrounding devices. A golden opportunity for a hacker. In all freedom, the hacker can detect and infect other devices. This is also exactly what happened in May and June of this year when home-workers were allowed back to the office more frequently again. On the four million devices of our customers at Tesorion, we observed an explosive increase in the number of malware detections in these business networks in May and June of this year. Where in March the number was still 600 a month, it arrived at almost 50,000 in June. This is no less than eight times more malware detections on business networks. The big question is: how do we make sure that we do not fall into the same trap after the second wave. How do we close the gates to malicious actors?

  • Segment your network
    EA first step to make a network as secure as possible is to segment this network. As a result, you limit the freedom of movement of the hackers and the malware considerably. This appears to be easier said than done, because devices continuously come and go on the network, or they change location. A gatekeeper is not an unnecessary luxury. It can automatically recognise devices and place them back at the correct place in the network. As a result, the necessary connectivity of employees is not lost, but you also make sure that a hacker does not have free rein on your business network.
  • Create backups
    Finally, it is important to create backups. Should a malware incident nonetheless take place, despite following the advice above, it is important that no data are lost. Perhaps a bit obvious, but also make sure that the data are stored offline. This should be done on a regular basis, so that in case of an attack you lose as little data as possible. In addition, it is important to regularly test the restore function.
  • Create awareness amongst your employees
    Another important step is to instruct employees of the hazards of phishing. An already old technique, but the uncertain coronavirus times led to a new wave. Daily users receive a range of messages on their devices via email, text messages, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, and other social channels. And also messages from less reliable sources that ask us for a reaction. In recent months, cyber-criminals have frequently used the coronavirus as a theme of their phishing emails. If employees are not instructed properly what they need to pay attention to in case of phishing emails, then they are an easy target. So, make sure there is enough awareness about this topic within your organisation and that employees know what step they should (not) take when a suspicious email is received.
  • How do you recognize a phishing message?
    To help you and your colleagues on your way and from home, we created a handout for you with handy tips. This way, you play an active part in a cyber-secure work environment and a more secure world.
    Order your free awareness handout »

COVID-19 affects society as a whole and there are always criminals who intend to seize the opportunity. Make sure that they are not given free rein on your business network by segmenting the network, pointing employees to the hazards, and regularly creating back-ups. Let us draw a lesson from the first wave and make sure that when we next return to the office, the number of malware incidents does not increase explosively. You can find more tips in Tesorion Retrospect Report Q2.