The pandemic has increased the number of cyber-attacks, a new report from Synopsys shows
The technological company Synopsys has recently revealed its report results on how the coronavirus pandemic had a negative effect on cybersecurity. The study, done by the company’s research center, focused on an analysis of 3,335 mobile apps that were mainly used during the pandemic. The results of the report showed that the app could have as many as 3,000 vulnerabilities over 82,000 times. Such discovery is quite worrying, to say the least.
The truth is the consequences of the pandemic are still felt more than a year later. Besides the effect it had on health and mental health, this pandemic has provoked a significant decline in the global economy. With social distancing and lockdowns being enforced, many people and businesses had to adapt to working remotely to be able to keep their jobs. For some, this was an entirely new way of working or studying. Therefore, as the use of digital apps has increased, so was the threat of cyber-attacks.
How the cyber pandemic manifests
The term of cyber pandemic clearly shows and best explains that, in the digital environment, there was an increase in cyber-attack cases. The targets were various, from individuals to both small-size and big businesses and even government organizations. What’s more, the attacks are wide-ranging, so the victims can suffer from all types of threats. Among those, there are data leaks, spyware, ransomware, and other bugs that embed particular vulnerabilities in apps which make it easier to hack and access private information.
The research department of Synopsys focused on security issues, including vulnerabilities, data leaks, or unsafe and suspect access requests. Among the apps evaluated by the company, there were communication tools, apps for fitness and exercising, and others that were frequently downloaded to either facilitate working or to spend time during lockdowns. It was revealed that there are 39 vulnerabilities on average in an Android app that doesn’t have an extremely high level of security.
Deep Instinct, a company focused on cybersecurity and the implementation of artificial intelligence to fight malware, conducted research on the multitude of daily cyberattacks and attempts from 2020. The results of the study showed that from 2019, the percentage of malware increased by 358% and ransomware by 435%. Hackers have seen the opportunity to take advantage of the tremendous consequences of the pandemic. As the entire world is affected by this health crisis, companies and governments are battling the socioeconomic challenges that come with it. With so many individuals making use of the digital environment more, cybercriminals have seen this vulnerability as an opportunity. Numbers are showing it, as 1 in 5 U.S. citizens are targets of ransomware.
Examples of cyber-attacks
Among the examples of cyber-attacks that happened lately, there is the case of the file-sharing app SHAREit. Especially during the pandemic, when everyone was working from home and businesses were heavily relying on digital apps that increase productivity and facilitate communication, an app for transferring files was much-needed. SHAREit has the great advantage of compatibility, which is a plus when you have to share files between devices with different operating systems. What’s more, you can send files between your smartphone and laptop or computer, so you don’t need to worry about USB cables. Given its ease of use and benefits, it isn’t unusual that many people have downloaded the app.
For this reason, it made the app a good target for cyber-attacks. Researchers found earlier this year bugs within the app that allow hackers to access the electronic device and perform malicious attacks without the user being notified of it. According to TechRobot, a cybercriminal has the possibility to hack 500 million app users, or more, due to the fact that the app uses an internet connection through Wi-Fi.
Besides digital apps being the target of cyber-attacks such as the one mentioned above, there are also attacks on government organizations. For instance, the head of United Arab Emirates Government Cyber Security, Mohamed al-Kuwaiti, stated that the country was a victim of cyberattacks in 2020, with no less than a 250% increase. The financial and health sectors are among the ones that are primarily targeted by cybercriminals. In terms of attacks, the two most common in UAE are phishing and ransomware, so the need for improved security infrastructure is of the utmost importance. UAE’s head of Cyber Security confirmed that the government focused on significant improvements and reconstruction of its national cybersecurity systems.
Increased cybersecurity can fight the cyber pandemic
The fact is that even though the threat is recognized and the risks of cyber-attacks are high, companies aren’t adequately equipped to combat them, as their security is yet to be updated to match the sophistication of the attacks. For this reason, there is an increase in demand for cybersecurity specialists. Businesses realize it is high time they invest more in strengthening the security of their operations. The 2021 survey from Insight, the company providing software, cloud solutions, and IT services, focused on approximately 200 IT security specialist executives from companies across many industries. All respondents of the survey confirmed that the company they work for had increased their focus on improved security measures, as 78% of respondents stated they didn’t trust the current security infrastructure of the company.
However, even though organizations are prepared to hire cybersecurity experts – 91% of companies are planning to invest more this year – unfortunately, there aren’t many individuals with expertise in this area. The reason why this is happening is because recent graduates from technology-based courses are still focusing on building their careers in other sectors, such as artificial intelligence. The positive aspect is that a career change can be done easily as you only need to attend an online course to get the experience and accreditation required. What’s more, with the demand being so high, the roles focused on cybersecurity are well-paid, and individuals are starting to move towards a career in this sector. The reality is that businesses and organizations can combat this cyber pandemic only by heavily investing in their security infrastructure, and cybersecurity experts are, therefore, becoming indispensable.