Post By: April Reyes
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only caused massive global disruption, but it has also altered the entire global workforce and the cyber-security landscape.
Security researchers are observing changing behavior patterns from threat actors and increasing waves of coronavirus-related cyber-attacks. However, this is not a unique trend because hackers almost often prey on unsuspecting victims shortly after every global disaster or high-profile event.
The COVID-19 pandemic is delivering an extraordinary range of cyber threats and challenges, which is why you need to prepare for the post-pandemic cyber threats aptly.
Here, we explain the top 10 cyber threats to expect in the post-pandemic world.
Think Like a Hacker
The global workforce continues to change dramatically. Nations are ordering their citizens to practice social distancing, and an unprecedented number of people are ‘working from home’ – many of them for the first time. The remote working practice is now forcing companies to provide laptops or computers to their employees, implement a VPN infrastructure, and deploy collaborative software.
Here’s what we believe is happening, and will continue to happen in the cyber-security landscape:
- Threat actors (hackers) are adapting their targets and tactics.
- Changes in targets and motives are expanding and disrupting the cyber-security
- Understanding your threat profile is important to create a better, more robust cyber
Top 10 Cyber Threats in a Post Pandemic World
Prepare for the post-pandemic world by understanding your cyber-security landscape, and the following post-pandemic cyber-threats:
1. RDP Targeted Brute-Force Attacks
Security researchers noted a rise in the number of RDP (remote desktop protocol) targeted brute-force attacks beginning mid-March as COVID-19 quarantines intensified all over the globe. There has since been an increase in these attacks as hackers take advantage of the current rise in remote work, and using RDP services.
RDP brute-force attacks have always represented a good part of all the bad traffic on the internet, and they are expected to increase as the workforce continues to embrace work-from-home policies.
2. Information Stealers and Keylogging
Info stealers like Hawkeye and Trickbot are not new, while others like 404 are relatively new Keylogger. Info stealers collect a wide range of information from their victims, such as usernames, passwords, Wi-Fi passwords, and bank details. They use typical keyloggers, more sophisticated versions that can steal advanced data such as system and network information, or the contents of cryptocurrency wallets.
Like other attacks, info stealers are typically distributed via spam email campaigns. To increase their infection rate, attackers are now using emails with COVID-19 themes.
3. IoT Device Attacks
In 2020, IoT devices continue to gain popularity and traction for homes, businesses, and the health sector. Why would hackers target IoT devices? The vulnerabilities of IoT have increased with COVID-19-related apps.
World governments are increasingly looking to use contact tracing apps to help contain COVID-19. This initiative, however, is likely to spark renewed interest in Bluetooth and health-related IoT attacks.
Hackers will continue exploring the vulnerabilities in these apps and devices to launch their attacks and compromise user privacy. The attacks will intensify in the post-pandemic when massive use of these apps is expected.
4. Malicious Domains
Since the coronavirus outbreak, the internet has seen a steady rise in the number of registered COVID-19 related domains. These are domains that contain the terms such as “corona pandemic,” “coronavirus,” “COVID-19”, “corona-virus,” and “covid19”. This is always expected after every high- profile world event.
However, while some of these domains are legitimate websites, thousands of these new websites are created by cyber-criminals are to carry out phishing, spam campaigns, or to spread malware.
A post-pandemic world will see so many websites with these domains that will be hotbeds of cyber-criminal work.
5. Malware and Malicious Campaigns
During this COVID-19, there has been an increase in widespread global communication, including:
- Interactive maps Applications
Cyber-criminals are taking advantage of this widespread communication to mask their activities. Security researchers have given warnings of increased use of COVID-19 from a variety of malicious campaigns, such as:
- email spam
- malicious domains
They embed these attacks on interactive communications.
These kinds of attacks are expected to increase in the post-pandemic world as people find more new information to contain the virus.
6. Phishing and Ransomware
Attackers have now adopted multi-stage phishing attacks leveraging email, PDF attachments, and trusted SaaS services.
Security researchers have identified a sophisticated phishing attack that combines multiple attack techniques to bypass existing cyber defenses. These are well thought out attacks that require upfront research, planning, target credentials, and financial information of the targeted users.
Security researchers believe that such sophisticated attacks will increase in frequency as hackers are picking low-hanging fruits (victims) with the surge in COVID-19–related attacks. Use a trusted review website like VPN Watch to choose a good VPN that will hide your IP and protect your identity and personal information from hackers and snoopers.
7. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Attacks
Hackers are expected to intensify their exploitation of AI scripts and software programs to conduct devastating cyber-crime and pose a threat to the internet.
The pandemic has seen a rise in the increase of AI and machine learning algorithms to predict COVID-19 attack results on economic and social welfare.
Hackers will use the same algorithms to create more cyber threats to the world governments, economies, and health care systems that use AI and machine learning.
As more people continue to work remotely, cyber-criminals are also continuing to intensify their crypto-jacking activities.
Security researchers have reported a three-fold increase in crypto-mining and crypto-jacking. Most people working remotely have reported lapses on their computing power because crypto mining requires a tremendous amount of computing power.
Hackers are expected to intensify their crypto-jacking activities in the post-pandemic world by installing crypto-jacking malware programs on their victims’ devices.
9. State-Sponsored Hackers
Cyber spies tend to exploit tragedy or national disasters.
Security researchers have confirmed several state-sponsored hacking activities are going on around the world during this pandemic. Different government cyber spies have been caught using COVID-19-themed emails, websites, and links to infect victims with various malware.
These activities are expected to increase as governments fight for space in finding the cure and vaccine for the COVID-19 virus.
10. Online Education Threats
There is currently a rush to return students to the classroom by adopting online learning under the COVID-19 to keep up with the social distancing directives. This exposes schools and students to cyber-attacks as hackers may target schools network systems to spread their malware.
There have already been infiltration cases in different schools, implementing online learning. Such cases are expected to increase during the post-pandemic period.
Cyber-attacks are changing and increasingly expanding as many individuals and organizations move to digital and online experiences because of the measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures are also exposing companies to cyber-security threats.
We’ve noted the top 10 cyber threats that are expected in the post-pandemic world, and we believe you have taken keen note to implement effective cyber-security against attackers.
About the Author: April Reyes is a technical writer for VPN Watch who loves find effective solutions to the most complicated complicated software and hardware issues.