NEW DELHI: Indian companies pursuing remote working policies need to deploy robust preventive measures to deal with spike in incidence of cyber attacks following COVID-19 outbreak, said a PwC report. “…cyber attacks on Indian companies doubled between January and March 2020. February saw a sudden spike, most focused on exploiting vulnerable services and obtaining easy access to remote desktops. \”There were untargeted phishing campaigns too wherein attackers impersonated personnel from various agencies battling COVID-19. After two primary sustained waves in February, attack volumes fell to a median level,” the report said. On the volume of attack, the report said that after March 15, when India witnessed rising COVID-19 cases, there was a massive wave of attacks targeting several Indian companies. “Many witnessed a 100 per cent increase in attacks between 17 and 20 February,” the report added. Given the current threat landscape, it said that companies has been utilising remote working policies need to deploy “robust preventive and detective technical measures” to deal with the increasing threat of cyber attacks.
Globally, COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread business disruptions, particularly due to business continuity via remote working. This makes organisations more vulnerable to rising cyberattacks. Based on the pattern of attacks across a wide cross-section of Indian organisations, using data collected via logs and various other sensors, PwC’s Cyber Security team analysed the cyber attacks on Indian entities in the last few weeks. Commenting on the rise in that cyber attacks after the spread of COVID-19, Siddharth Vishwanath, Leader – Cyber Security, PwC India said with significant shifts to work from home or off-location operations, organisations are more focused on continuity of day -to-day operations than on plugging the gaps in the remote infrastructure. “Hackers, who realise this, do not want to leave any stone unturned to harness the moment. PwC’s threat analysis validates this as the cyberattacks in the backdrop of the COVID-19 have seen a sudden spike,” he said. He suggested that organisations are required to work on fixing the gaps in their remote infrastructure and provide secure remote access to employees and other stakeholders.
PwC has suggested that companies should utilise only secure access mechanisms for remote access, implement strong password policies and two-factor authentication for all remote access, and use geo-restrictions and login velocity restrictions, if possible, among other measures.