The coronavirus pandemic is placing the foundation for a severe cyberattack within six months from now, particularly the most significant one in history.
Of course, this topic has not grabbed much attention yet due to the current global news surrounding said virus.
Cybersecurity experts will tell you how much money and time is involved with reducing “attack surface” as a defense to hackers looking to profit off of such cyberattacks, but not every company hires these invaluable professionals.
A Game of Breaking into Two Buildings
If one pretends the first building is an oceanfront mansion, the front door may be the first idea of getting in. Next, if not successful, dozens of windows and other doors are options. Maybe even many balconies and patios.
How about an underground concrete bunker for the second building? Remember, there are no windows and only one door to the inside.
Therefore, the second building would be more difficult to breach as its occupants can watch the sole door for security purposes and be less distracted by other possible entrances.
Similarly, as a network has more devices connected, the bigger its attack surface becomes, which means the network becomes easier to hack. Every device has potential vulnerabilities that hackers can utilize for attacking a system in more ways than one.
The Pandemic has Weakened Companies’ Virtual Defenses
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, remote-based employees were typically given company-configured computers with extra security precautions. Moreover, a separate, secure wi-fi connection is commonly used with strict adherence expected to minimize possible hacks.
Now, think about how hundreds of millions of people are working remotely since the pandemic started months ago. Numerous firms had just days to figure out how to make home-based work happen, so secure systems were the last thing to be implemented. For instance, most employees likely don’t even have work-specific computers assigned to them still.
In other words, personal computers with unsecured connections are being used by such employees to access job-related files that often contain confidential and/or personal data.
One entry point accessed is all hackers need to get control of an entire network. Then, sensitive information can be stolen and employees can even be locked out of the network.
Lockheed Martin, the largest defense contractor in the United States, had its remote workers affected by such a hack when hackers broke into the network. If they can infiltrate this system, you know remote workers with little security are much easier.
In the past couple of months, hackers have targeted the United States Department of Health. Likewise, attacks against the World Health Organization have more than doubled.
These are only the hacks we are aware of. Cyber intelligence firm, CYFIRMA, discovered cyberthreats related to the coronavirus pandemic jumped 600% from February to March. It’s only a matter of time before we hear about yet another major cyberattack.
That’s why the biggest cyberattack in history is being predicted. None of us want to see a big organization destroyed from top to bottom. Definitely not when the world is battling a life-threatening pandemic.
Unfortunately, remote workers remain prime targets for cyber criminals. The attack surface has never been larger, so a major cyberattack is statistically probable.
When newsworthy-hacks are revealed, cyber stocks surge. Recall the early 2018 news regarding the Facebook and Cambridge Analytic scandal. It sparked a huge run-up in cyber stocks. The largest cybersecurity ETF (CIBR) rose 25% within the next six months.
Cyber companies have surged from serious hacks before. For example, look at February 2015, where American health insurer Anthem announced 80 million patients’ records were stolen. The next four months saw several cyber stocks rising over 30%.
Interestingly, the same trend was observed earlier this year in January. Specifically, the United States military targeted and killed an Iranian general with a missile. Some may be surprised to know that Iran is a cyber superpower. So, when Iran promised to retaliate by attacking American networks, some cyber stocks rose up to 30% in a matter of six weeks.
Simply put, investors panic to buy cyber stocks after serious cyberattacks make the news, but one should be invested long before that.