Remote Working Exposing Businesses to Unforeseen Threats

The sudden shift to remote working this year as a result of COVID-19 has left businesses at far higher risk of cyber-attacks, largely due to their corporate infrastructure being exposed to attack vectors and threats that would not have been considered a year ago.

This is according to Bitdefender’s The ‘New Normal’ State of Cybersecurity report, which showed that businesses are particularly at risk of attacks exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities that are under a year old, with 36.37% of all unpatched vulnerabilities involving CVEs that were assigned in 2019 in the first half of 2020.

The report also found that, of the network-level attacks recorded in this period, 46.84% involved the exploitation of a vulnerability in the SMB protocol, while 41.63% were bruteforce attempts on RDP and FTP.

The increasing use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices by remote employees was another major source of concern for security professionals, with 45% believing them to pose serious security risks as they can be easily controlled by remote hackers and compromise corporate infrastructure. This was supported by Bitdefender’s data, which revealed that suspicious IoT incidents in households surged by 46% from January to June.

Additionally, the researchers further highlighted the extent to which malicious actors have been using the topic of COVID-19 to launch business email compromise (BEC) attacks. They said that four in 10 coronavirus-themed emails have been classified as spam, phishing or malware, which suggests remote employees have been “constantly at risk” of opening malicious emails.

Bitdefender CTO Bogdan Dumitru commented: “In the wake of 2020, 50% of organizations were unprepared to face a scenario in which they would have to migrate their entire workforce in a work-from-home environment. The global COVID-19 pandemic may have been a respiratory illness that affected people around the world, but it also impaired the way organizations and business conducted normal operations.

“The lack of forward planning for such a scenario left many organizations open to potential vulnerabilities and misconfigurations that threat actors could have easily leveraged to score breaches, exfiltrate data or even generate additional profit by extorting vulnerable companies.”

What’s Hot on Infosecurity Magazine?