COVID-19 is Resulting in Greatly Increased WFH Situations. AND It’s Also Causing a Surge in COVID Themed Cyberattacks!

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The world is in full blown pandemic mode as a result of the COVID-19 virus.  We hear on a daily basis that more countries are closing their borders to foreign travellers and, on a more local level, provincial and civic governments continue to urge their citizens to stay at home so as to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  This has thus resulted in a vast number of organizations having their employees work from home (WFH).  While many organizations had already started down the path with the WFH movement, this current pandemic has forced many organizations to greatly accelerate the timeline to update their infrastructure to allow their workers to VPN into their servers in order to access documents and files that they need to be able to do their jobs.

Unfortunately, with the accelerated timelines, many organizations and their network infrastructures are ill-equipped to handle the greatly increased load caused by having most or all of their employees VPN or access their networks remotely.  That, and more often than not, security concerns are an afterthought, leaving organizations’ servers, as well as the employees working from home, even more vulnerable to cyber security threats and attacks.

In an article from Forbes, they mention that “Even before people began working at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, enterprise level ransomware was up 12% in 2019 with total costs of as much as $11.5B.”  One can only imagine how lessened security for those working from home could even further increase these numbers.  The article continues by saying that “Being safe from malware requires some work on your part and coordination with your IT department, but planning ahead will give you more peace of mind and allow you to continue being productive, even while working away from your office.”  It also goes on to provide some good steps that employees can take to prevent, detect, mitigate and recover from malware, such as ransomware.
We won’t go into those here as they are laid out quite nicely by the aforementioned Forbes article.  Instead, we want to press further and bring up the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is creating an almost perfect storm for hackers and bad actors to increase their attacks.  With millions of people now WFH, without adequate protections against cybersecurity attacks now that they are no longer protected behind their organizations firewalls and other expensive security defences, hackers are making a concerted push to attack these workers.
In an article from MSN, they bring up that COVID themed attacks are exploding.  Cleverly designed emails are being sent out to look like they are from work supervisors with malicious attachments on the new “work from home policy”.  When combined with diversions resulting from parents having to take care of their kids while at home, or other things that might provide distractions, workers are at greater risk of clicking on links that may be malicious.  On top of that, COVID-19 has people very scared and looking for answers.  Many hackers are using social engineering to prey on these fears, disguising malware within emails that look like Coronavirus Awareness information, or crowdfunding pages purported to help those fallen ill.  The wicked do not rest and COVID-19 has provided a new theme for hackers to use to try to get people infected.

Thankfully, there is a ray of hope that is shining out of COVID-19’s dark clouds.  Wedge Networks has been on the leading edge of providing real-time threat protection for both home office and corporate infrastructure.  We understand that when your employees are working outside of your well-fortified corporate castle, they are not protected by all of the expensive defences that your organization has installed over the years, including EDR/MDR/ Sandboxes, Network Traffic Analyzers, and Firewalls / NGFW / SWG / IDPS.  In order to help protect the increasing levels of WFH workers, Wedge offers PlanV – Wedge’s Secure Remote Office Solution, based on the Wedge Absolute Real-time Protection (WedgeARP) platform.  For those organizations who already have a VPN infrastructure, WedgeARP can be easily deployed into their VPN Cloud to protect all connected systems.  For those organizations who have not yet implemented a VPN infrastructure, Wedge provides professional services to help quickly set up remote offices with Microsoft Azure vWAN, secured by WedgeARP.

PlanV offers some key benefits to organizations, including:
1. Allowing workers to access their workplace systems to achieve the same productivity while working from home.
2. Providing real-time threat protection for both the home office and corporate infrastructure.
3. Improving the economics of the WFH environment, lowering worker commute times, reducing bandwidth and office space costs and allowing for centrally managed security – blocking malware before it can even enter your network.

To learn more about how Wedge’s PlanV – Secure Remote Office Solution can help your organization to secure its WFH population, contact us at:  Our team wants to do its part in helping to secure workers around the world who are working from home during this unprecedented time.

About Wedge Chief Scientist

Husam Kinawi, Chief Scientist Dr. Kinawi has a PhD and MSc in Computer Science from the Universities of Calgary, Canada and London, UK. In 1997, he co-founded Mpower Technologies Inc., a wireless telecommunications software company. In 1999, Dr. Kinawi co-founded (NASDAQ: AIQT), a Boston-based e-Business applications firm. Dr. Kinawi has over seventeen years of research and development experience working with industry leaders such as Newbridge (Alcatel), Siemens, United Technologies, and Apple in the areas of distributed information systems, embedded applications and wireless Internet solutions. Dr. Kinawi has also spoken at several major conferences, published several research papers, and is the holder of several patents in the area of mobile and wireless devices.
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