Despite large parts of the country reopening, numerous businesses are likely to retain their remote operations for the foreseeable future. But will they be able to maintain their cybersecurity from a distance?
Recently published data indicates remote cybersecurity threats are on the rise for both consumers and businesses. A new study by research firm Javelin Strategy confirms that identity theft and fraud have increased by 15 percent over the past year alone.
Moreover, the findings outlined in Javelin’s 2020 Identity Fraud Study confirms that cybercriminals and identity thieves have adapted new methods for committing fraud, shifting from credit card counterfeiting to illicitly taking over credit and checking accounts, a development that should concern individuals and enterprises alike.
“The results of Javelin’s 2020 Identity Fraud Study serve as a wake-up call, one that will force financial institutions, businesses, and the payment industry to reevaluate how identity fraud is managed,” said Javelin’s head of fraud Krista Tedder in the report, noting that the total cost of identity theft nationwide surpassed $16.9 billion in the past year alone, up $2.2 billion from 2018.
The report echoes previous concerns regarding cybersecurity, and how these failings will affect the U.S. economy during a period of widespread telecommuting. Nongovernmental organizations such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Atlantic Council previously noted that much of our technological infrastructure is inept to handle the rigors of a fully remote model.
These failings will inevitably breed more effective cyberattacks, according to some estimates.
The WEF predicts that economic effects of a widespread, COVID-like computer virus will dwarf that of our current public health pandemic.
As such, it’s necessary that all enterprises safeguard their cybersecurity — and take the necessary steps to prepare and prevent identity thieves and other web-based fraud while working remotely.
Maintaining Remote Cybersecurity During Coronavirus
If you’ve put off “locking down” your online accounts, be it personal or for your business, your first step should be to take stock of your current security infrastructure — and organize it accordingly to prevent future hacks.
“Small changes can make a huge impact on your information security,” says consultant John Svazic of EliteSec Information Security Consulting. “Making use of a password manager is probably one of the biggest, since it will help you organize your passwords and ensure that you don’t reuse them on different websites.
He went on to recommend that utilizing multi-factor authentication, which requires a user to sign-in on two devices simultaneously, can deter would-be thieves.
“Even if your password is discovered, the attacker still needs to have your phone or some other physical device to get into your account,” Svazic added.
Organizations and businesses should remain vigilant of phishing attacks — where a hacker pretends to be a representative of an organization through a facsimile email — as phishing remains a common, and successful, method of gaining access to private information.
“In the last few years, a massive surge of cyberattacks has been witnessed, especially identity theft and phishing,” says Saad Rana of virtual private network service PureVPN. “J.P.Morgan fell victim to such scams in 2018, leaving common users petrified for their own cybersecurity.”
Phishing attacks similarly played a role in leaking the emails of political consultant John Podesta (and by extension then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton), demonstrating the efficacy of the scam — and the necessity to prepare.
“There’s no silver bullet to what you can do to protect your organization from phishing attacks,” says Svazic. “But training your staff to report suspicious emails and phone calls, in line with ensuring you keep your internet-facing systems patched and up to date, will definitely go a long way.”
As a final precaution, remain wary of any threats to your cybersecurity that may come your way while working remote. To that end, you can stay up-to-date on the latest pandemic developments following CentSai’s COVID-19 page, allowing you (and your business) to stay informed and prepared for whatever’s next.