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Phishing Attacks During COVID – The Collective Approach Towards Individual Responsibilities to Reduce Such Online Threats

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t just bring along a mammoth worry for the medical community, it also became a great concern for cybersecurity experts since, as per the data revealed by different researches and studies, there has been an increase in the number of phishing attacks by 39% in the year 2020, post the arrival of COVID. The main reason that hackers found their way to attack more and more people is the implementation of remote working culture where more and more employees and employers lay emphasis on working from home. Whilst it certainly has its benefits, the concerns like phishing and spear phishing hacks call for the requirement to train unsuspecting employees about what phishing is and how they can protect their systems and assets from hackers who are constantly looking for opportunities to exploit system vulnerabilities and steal sensitive data. 

So, the first question is, what is phishing?

Phishing is a cybercrime that focuses on sending emails to different organisations and people and those emails contain dangerous malware in the disguise of attachments and links. When those links are clicked open, hackers gain unauthorised entry within a system and steal a lot of data that may include:

  • Identity theft.
  • Stealing financial information.

Such attacks incur substantial financial losses. 

Spear phishing, on the other hand, is a more targeted way of releasing malware in a system. The malicious emails in spear phishing are specially designed for an individual target. The source looks so convincing that people do not think twice before opening the links and attachments. And the results are exactly the same as phishing. 

Having said that, the different ways in which such threats can be reduced and mitigated are listed below. 

Responsibilities of the Employers/Organizations 

Your employees do not have an individual cybersecurity team working at their homes. You have to understand that, when working from home, employees are on their own. Which is why you should focus on the following solutions.

  • Arrange for frequent webinars to teach your employees about phishing attacks.
  • Switch to the implementation of MFA authentication that’s another level of security.
  • Ensure that every single remote work system has to go through the VPN. In this way, the employees will have the same amount of security that they had when they were working from home.

Responsibilities of Employees

The basics always begin with the eagerness to learn what experts have to teach during the webinars that your company schedules. Some other ways that can also be used as a resistance against phishing attacks as follows. 

  • Do not open any email – no matter it looks authentic – that comes from a source that’s not a client of the company without the approval of the cybersecurity team.
  • Always use the VPN tools. It’ll provide maximum security.
  • Make a separate WiFi work network.
  • Install a firewall and, preferably, focus on network segmentation.
  • Always report any suspicious activity to the concerned team.

Remember, unless everyone fulfills personal responsibilities on their behalf, hackers will continue to exploit vulnerabilities. So, play your part in the fight against hackers to protect your assets. 

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