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Increased Telework on Home Broadband Networks Leads to Surge in Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities

Jericho Casper

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Screenshot of Carbon Black Inc. Chief Cybersecurity Officer Tom Kellermann from the webinar

May 28, 2020 — The age of remote working and learning has led to a dramatic increase in cybersecurity risks, according to panelists at a webinar hosted Wednesday by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation.

“The cybersecurity landscape has only gotten wider and deeper,” said Vincent Voci, Executive Director of Cyber Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

According to Carbon Black Inc. Chief Cybersecurity Officer Tom Kellermann, there has been a 238 percent increase in cyber-attacks since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.

Cyber criminals seeking access to information on research and development, critical infrastructure and personally identifiable information, are looking to exploit the increased digital communication and presence occurring as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 has forced millions of workers to transition from their typical work space to the home, a move no one was prepared for. In the midst of the chaotic transition, it has been difficult for companies to secure their virtual operations.

Entire industries and sectors are now profoundly dependent on online tools, but many are unaware of the risks and vulnerabilities that come along with the transition to telework, said the panelists.

More than ever, employees are utilizing personal devices and networks to access highly sensitive information, increasing risks to both the individual user and their computer network.

Video conferencing has emerged as the universal tool for business continuity. But although online collaboration tools have proved essential, video conferencing has drastically increased the attack surface that can be exploited by malicious actors.

There has been a dramatic spike in phishing attacks, panelists said, as malicious actors attempt to prey off of the state of hysteria the world is in and anxious populations are likely to make more short-sided decisions.

Hospitals and medical facilities, already overwhelmed on the physical front, are particularly vulnerable to cyber-attack. Ransomware attacks on hospitals and medical facilities have seen a 900 percent increase, Kellermann said.

This is the most dramatic increase he has seen in his 22-year cybersecurity career, he added.

Furthermore, the occurrence of destructive attacks, or attacks with the capability to render the affected system inoperable, has dramatically increased to reach one out of four attacks.

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