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COVID-19 has everyone on edge, and attackers are taking full advantage

by Erik Briceno

Ransomware and phishing attacks are not slowing down during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the contrary, cybersecurity threats are actually seeing a tremendous increase while all of this is going on. Even hospitals, where healthcare staff are putting themselves at great risk to treat coronavirus patients, are seeing a rise in the number of ransomware attacks – so much so that even Microsoft sent out an alert earlier this month to healthcare organizations around the globe.

In a previous blog, we shared guidelines put forth by the Department of Homeland Security, NIST, and others regarding what homebound workers can do on their end to take up a stronger security posture. But what about hospitals and other major industries that are more vulnerable now than ever before?

Hospitals are under attack during COVID-19

An attack on a health-care provider locks down computers that typically contain electronic medical records. That means that doctors and nurses can’t access information about their patients’ medical histories, the dosages of drugs that patients require and other critical information. The ramifications of such an attack, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak, can be devastating. In many instances, ransoms are being paid because the health organizations are under time constraints and pressure – exactly what the attackers are counting on.

Phishing attempts are disguised as COVID-19 news

To make matters even worse, in times of stress or distraction, people are more likely to fall for malicious scams and tricks. Phishing attempts are now masquerading as coronavirus news such as health updates, pandemic policy referendums, and stimulus check information. And now, with everyone working from home, they’re even spoofing Zoom meeting invites (to say nothing of the hateful “Zoom bombing” instances many users are currently experiencing). These scams are being sent via global botnets through email, text messaging, Facebook, and pretty much any other platform that people are using to communicate with.

It’s more important than ever to follow official cybersecurity guidelines

COVID-19 has everyone on edge, and attackers are taking full advantageContinuing to follow guidelines from NIST, alerts from government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, as well as official alerts put out by tech giants (regarding their own products at any rate) such as Microsoft is likely your best bet for keeping your business from going under, regardless of which industry you’re in. But this goes double for those in healthcare because a lot more than just business is at stake. Organizations need to update their VPNs and network infrastructure devices and configure them in the manner recommended by these entities. Employees need to be trained to recognize phishing attempts – an increasingly difficult proposition, as phishing scams become more convincing and everyone is trying to obtain the latest news and information on COVID-19. Indeed, practicing cybersecurity hygiene is just as important as actual hygiene right now.

V2 Systems is here to do our part and help in any way we can. Whether it’s providing in-house training for workers to increase their cybersecurity awareness, getting your organization up to speed (and in line) with NIST and CMMC standards, or updating and protecting your entire IT infrastructure around the clock, we’re here for you. For a consultation at absolutely no cost, please contact us. By working together, we can weather the storm.

 

Since 1995, Manassas Park, VA-based V2 Systems has employed local systems administrators, network engineers, security consultants, help desk technicians and partnering companies to meet a wide range of clients’ IT needs, from research, to implementation, to maintenance. Concentrate on your VISION…We’ll handle the TECHNOLOGY!

ebriceno
About ebriceno
Erik Briceño is the owner of V2 Systems, Inc., one of Northern Virginia’s leading Information Technology Managed Service Providers. He is an inspiring leader for its employees and instrumental business partner for its customers. He is passionate about V2’s purpose, dedicated to exceeding expectations and a consummate professional not afraid of jumping in and getting his hands dirty. Prior to joining V2 Systems in 2002, Erik was a co-founder and COO of Ampcast.com, a leading provider of online resources servicing over 5,000 independent musical artists. At Ampcast.com, Erik spearheaded all aspects of corporate development, funding, strategic vision, and business development for the firm. From 1997 to 1999 Erik held the position of Acoustic Systems Engineer for Electric Boat Corporation, a leading defense contractor. In this role, Erik was responsible for the acoustic fidelity of two noise critical systems and components in the US Navy’s nuclear submarine systems. Erik holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Vanderbilt University and a Masters of Business Administration from George Mason University. When not working, you will find Erik a dedicated family man, raising two young children with his lovely wife Karen. Together, they enjoy building legos, playing baseball, skiing, riding horses, swimming, traveling, and fixing up old Mopars.
COVID-19 has everyone on edge, and attackers are taking full advantage
COVID-19 has everyone on edge, and attackers are taking full advantage