The Indelible Impact of COVID-19 On Cybersecurity by Samyak Sanjay Sand

Article Written by Samyak Sanjay Sand – CSE at NIT Karnataka

As a result of the COVID-19 epidemic and the ensuing lockdown, more people are confined to their homes, where they have considerably more hours to spend online each day and are becoming more reliant on the Internet to receive services that they would have otherwise obtained offline.

For many years, the risks of cybercrime have been present. However, an increase in the number of Internet users mid pandemic, along with the amount of time they spend online, has presented cybercriminals with more options to use the situation to their advantage, which has, in turn, increased their potential to gain money or cause disruption. It should be noted that some of the most vulnerable groups of the population, for example, students, need to spend more time online for services like online classes.

While youngsters benefit immensely from e-learning, they are also more vulnerable to cyber risks. Not only the young but also the elderly, who used to rely on offline shopping but now have to buy what they need on the Internet, are more vulnerable to cybercrime. This tectonic change in the way we live and use the Internet has led to the proliferation of e-crimes.

Throughout the epidemic, countries worldwide reported an increase in cybercrime. For instance, in India, the Cyber and Information Security (C&IS) Division, which is responsible for cybercrime, reported a variety of scams and frauds that took the form of advertisements, emails, phoney websites, as well as phone calls and text messages. Cybercriminals are using malware, including viruses, worms, trojan horses, ransomware, and spyware, to penetrate, compromise, steal, or wipe personal data on personal computers by capitalizing on the anxieties and fears triggered by the pandemic. In addition, Italian law enforcement has identified the “Corona Anti-Virus” software.This software’s BlackNet Rat application claims to protect the user’s device from viruses but instead undermines its security and takes control, allowing the criminal to operate it remotely.

Despite the fact that the risk of being attacked will continue to exist, some mitigating methods may be beneficial to users. It is strongly advised that users use extreme caution while dealing with phishing emails and websites, exercise good cyber hygiene, connect to only trusted Wi-Fi networks, and consider using a password manager to prevent using the same password for different websites. When sharing sensitive data or downloading a file from an email, it is vital to have two separate lines of communication. Having the sender verify their identity with an SMS, WhatsApp message, or brief phone call before opening an attack email or webpage can help avert a cyberattack. When using group conference calls (MS Teams, Google Meets, Zoom, etc.), be cautious about sharing screens or transmitting images that may include sensitive information.

Ultimately, COVID-19 will forever alter our way of life through the introduction of new work styles, new cybersecurity challenges, new recommended policies, improvements in personal cleanliness, and so on. The fight against COVID-19 is not just for business, its employees, or its customers; it is a collaborative effort on everyone’s part. Consequently, post-COVID-19, users and organizations will need to re-evaluate their cyber risk management procedures, including updating network security settings, installing a good-quality VPN, and utilizing appropriate anti-virus software to ensure their system and network settings remain malware and virus-free.