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Rise in Cyberattacks in Italy Prove Coronavirus is Impacting Cybersecurity - Acting as a Warning for Organizations Worldwide

March 2020 by CYNET

Cynet announced that an analysis of the company’s aggregate customer data in Italy is connecting the spread of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) to a growing volume of cyber-attacks in the region. The findings reveal that companies with higher instances of the virus and that have quarantined or instructed employees to work from home, are now experiencing a sharp rise in both phishing attacks that target remote user credentials and include weaponized email attacks. This shows the propensity for hackers to shift their focus to remote work environments in order to capitalize on the virus while thwarting corporate security measures. While this data reflects the current cyber threat landscape in Italy, it also illustrates the future cyber implications for any territory in which the Corona virus would spread to the level that justifies a similar quarantine policy.

This analysis, conducted by Cynet, focuses on multiple organizations in Italy and shows a distinct spike in remote worker phishing attacks, compared to countries with fewer attacks. This indicates that remote workers have become a weak link that threat actors are targeting and that user credentials in offsite computing (home) environments are increasingly at risk — especially in regions with escalating cases of COVID-19. This spike is coupled by a similar increase in anomalous remote login attempts flagged by Cynet as malicious. Crossing the two trends indicates a clear inclination by criminal hackers to leverage the situation and maliciously log in to organizational resources.

Another trend that Cynet has identified is the sharp rise in weaponized email attacks. As personal computers lack enterprise-grade email security and advanced endpoint protection, they are significantly less secure and more vulnerable to malware, exploits, Macros and other malicious executables. According to Cynet’s findings, 21% of personal computer email systems featured simplistic attacks with a link to download a malicious executable embedded in the email body. The rest of attacks were more advanced and included malicious macros (32%) and exploits or redirection to malicious websites (35%) – a challenge that surpasses the capabilities of most home devices anti-virus and email protection solutions.

In terms of how these attacks were stopped from achieving success, more than 40% were limited by behavioral analysis, nearly 30% were stopped by machine learning static analysis, nearly 20% were halted using memory monitoring and a little over 10% were identified and blocked using their signature.

In response to this data, Cynet recommends checking that business security teams are functioning properly, even with missing team members that are at home in quarantine. If assistance is required, contact Cynet regarding its MDR services to assist in alert handling and incident response.

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