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Companies preparing to deal with Covid-themed phishing surge in 2021

It’s likely that 2021 will be the final year of intense restrictions due to Covid-19, but that won’t stop an expected surge in Covid-themed phishing attacks. 

According to new research from Centrify, a provider of identity-centric privileged access management solutions, 64% of business decision makers are anticipating Covid-themed phishing attacks targeting their company to increase in 2021. 

The data revealed that more than 52% of business decision makers have anticipated an increase in cyber attacks facing their organisations, as triggered by the most recent national lockdown in the UK, which ended on December 2.

To protect their organisations, IT security professionals should take proactive measures including security awareness training for employees, restricting VPN connections, increasing the use of multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever available, and applying least privilege access controls.  

Despite these concerns, 37% of respondents admitted that they currently have no plans to train new employees on data management policies and cyber security risks specific to Covid-related disruption.

Furthermore, 37% also stated that they do not have sufficient systems in place to verify employee identities and credentials when accessing company data.

Howard Greenfield, chief revenue officer at Centrify, commented, “Covid-themed email, SMS and web-based phishing attacks have not been uncommon over the last year, and so far we’ve seen cyber attack campaigns using the guise of charity, government financial aid initiatives, and business support schemes already lure thousands of victims into leaking sensitive information, such as log-in credentials and payment details.

“In fact, these phishing campaigns have been so sophisticated and widespread in 2020 that business leaders can only reasonably assume that a colleague or employee has already fallen victim to one – especially if they have been working remotely this year for the first time in their career.

“Therefore, it is absolutely imperative for companies to adopt a zero trust approach enforced by least privilege access, which will only grant access to certain applications and data once a user’s identity has been verified. This will ensure that leaked log-in credentials do not necessarily translate to a breach of data.”

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