What are the biggest cyber security risks of 2020?

During Cyber Security Awareness Month, our cyber security experts answered the most frequently searched questions on securing digital communications, working safely from home and eliminating the biggest cyber risks. Answers are available in video and written format.

No time to watch the full video? The question: 'What are the biggest cyber security risks of 2020?' is also answered below (in more detail than in the video).

You can safely say that 2020 is a unique year. Everything that many of us knew to be normal, suddenly turned out not to be anymore. The global Coronavirus pandemic meant that many of us had to start working from home. This caused a major shift towards a remote workforce, a real digital breakthrough! 

Suddenly, companies were able to quickly adapt to help ensure business continuity. That is, of course, a positive fact, but that also comes with many new security challenges. What are these risks? 

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Safeguard sensitive information while working from home

Biggest cyber security risks of 2020:

So to come back to the original question, there are multiple cyber security risks associated with this rapid transition to working from home.

New (insecure) software suppliers

To start with, an increasing number of people are using suppliers such as Teams and Zoom to bridge the distance to their contacts such as customers, patients, constituents and clients. Are these tools safe enough, for example, to use for a doctor's consultation? And do employees without proper training actually know how to use these new cloud solutions safely?

Phishing, unsafe internet routers and more!

In addition, working from home of course forces us to use our own potentially unsafe internet routers. The same router that your 9 year old son uses to play Call of Duty with his online friends, can be used by you to process sensitive data as well.

And of course, let's not forget about phishing attacks. Even at the beginning of the corona outbreak in Europe, cyber criminals saw an opportunity to take advantage of the situation. With the passage of time, this has only increased. Criminals seem to be responding to panic. During the onset of the pandemic, it was widely reported that thousands of scam and malware sites were being created every day to try to dupe unsuspecting recipients, with varying degrees of success. And even months later, these threats persists as well as evolve.

Highest risk: unsecured privacy-sensitive data sharing while working from home

But perhaps the biggest cyber security risk in 2020 will be the processing of privacy-sensitive data remotely. While working from home, at times you may need to process a lot of data. If you work with clients or patients, it's logical that you may have to use the digital highway to get in touch with them. After all, it can only be done digitally if you are in quarantine, for example, but still want to continue to provide care at a distance.

Let's take a step back and re-evaluate what has happened. After all, there are measures that organizations can take to work safely from home. Measures that you are taking now to create a future-proof safe working environment. This can be done, for example, with what Gartner calls an 'Email Data Protection Specialist'. These are platforms and suppliers for secure email, and it's also possible they can be used for secure video calling and chat.

Our top recommendations for working safely from home and sharing data remotely:

  1.  Ensure secure communication by using a VPN while working from home.

  2. Use a suitable safe communication platform to ensure that you can email, chat or make video calls securely. 

  3. Make employees aware of cyber risks while working from home. By re-evaluating software vendors and providing regular awareness training. Ultimately, working safely at home entails a combination of technology and human factors.

 

View all Cyber Security Awareness Q&A videos on our YouTube channel or download the 'Safeguard sensitive information while working from home' e-book.

 

Written by

Kevin Lamers

Originally published on October 1, 2020

Last update on January 6, 2021