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Data Protection: Why it’s important, even during a pandemic

The outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic has impacted many aspects of our daily life. Many businesses have turned to smart working to carry on daily operations. People are spending more time indoors. We are using technology to communicate more often. And, among all this, the lives of IT professionals are as busy as always: they still have to manage their IT infrastructures and their data. And cyber attackers are making things even more complicated.

IT threats in the times of Covid19

Earlier this year, we have written about 5 IT security threats that you should be aware of in 2020. Unfortunately, these threats are still relevant during major world events like a pandemic. There are still cyber-villains out there that want to take advantage of an already bad situation.

This also means IT professionals have to make the data belonging to their organization is still protected. On the one hand, during this crisis, a company cannot afford to lose money (while paying a ransom, for example); and on the other hand, data is still a company’s most valuable asset – both during this pandemic and after it will be over.

At Syneto, we talk about data protection a lot, as we believe it is an important topic for modern businesses. Data is the new oil, after all. And we are trying to stick to our mission even during troubled times.

How are cyber attackers exploiting the Covid19 pandemic?

So far, there has been news of several security exploits taking advantage of current public health issues. In Italy, these IT threats have even been so common that the Italian police has issued public warnings in an attempt to help individuals and businesses.

The two main mechanisms involved in these exploits are deploying malware (including ransomware) and phishing (stealing user information). We have detailed these threats in our previous blog post, here.

So how are hackers undertaking these exploits?

1. E-mail

This usually involves receiving an e-mail that seems to come from health authorities and to contain information about Covid19. These e-mails, which often contain grammar errors, will contain some sort of file that the receiver is supposed to open. This file then opens ransomware that will infect the user’s computer.

One of the malware that has recently been discovered is Trickbot. There have been many cases of this malware being used to target Italian users, exploiting their fears of Covid19. Similar malware are Lokibot and Emotet, to name a few.

2. Websites

A famous example has been a website that contained a map of the globe highlighting to which countries the virus has spread, together with various statistics. To make things more credible, the map had been designed to mimic a legitimate COVID-19 threat map created by John Hopkins University. The victims who clicked on the links activated malicious information-stealing software from a malware family called AZORult.

While this website has been discovered, it wasn’t until it had made a few victims. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that similar websites will not appear again soon.

How can you protect your business?

You are living troubled times and data protection may have fallen on your list of priorities. However, keep in mind that once this is all over, you are going to need your data more than ever. In the meantime, here are a few easy measures you can take.

  • Stay informed: you are probably following news about the pandemic already, but don’t forget to also follow data protection and security news.
  • Communicate with your team: talk to your team and train them on how to spot potential exploits. This may be more difficult if you’ve turned to working remotely, but not impossible. You can create a chat group in which to debate the topic or you can host an online webinar; whatever works for your team.
  • Don’t forget to backup: even if your organisation falls victim to malware, make sure your data is consistently backed up; saving your data is the best long-term investment you can make right now.

Our businesses are witnessing many changes, but we can work through this – together. At Syneto, we are doing our best to support our customers however we can. We are working on developing new features that are adapted to the current situation. In the meantime, if you need help managing your IT, don’t hesitate to get in touch.