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Red flags raised over exposed data during lockdown

Many businesses introduced remote work and sent their employees home in response to the coronavirus pandemic, The problem? One of a business’s biggest risks when it comes to data breaches is its own people.
17 August 2020 Francois Janse van Vuuren

Many businesses introduced remote work and sent their employees home in response to the coronavirus pandemic, The problem? One of a business’s biggest risks when it comes to data breaches is its own people. And without the same stringent security measures in place for employees working off their personal bandwidth or devices, many companies found that their data might have been exposed to cybercriminals.

Increased cyberattacks in lockdown

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa recently warned that the country has experienced an increase in cybercrime since the beginning of the lockdown. Unfortunately, criminals take advantage of situations where their potential victims are vulnerable. The confusion that followed the onset of lockdown – where businesses were still figuring out the best way to continue their operations – created an opportunity for cybercriminals to infiltrate security measures or gain access to information. New collaboration tools were also found to have exposed data during lockdown with video-conferencing platform Zoom, for example, publicly acknowledging its security issues.

Healthcare providers targeted

In a highly-publicised incident, UK healthcare providers were targeted by hackers who broke into Hammersmith Medicines Research and gained access to thousands of patients’ records. They threatened to publish the details if a ransom wasn’t paid. And if you think that South African companies are safe from this kind of crime you’re in for a shock. Techcrunch reported recently that a South African medical startup called LogBox leaked patient data when it exposed user accounts in a security lapse.

SA companies at risk

A security researcher reported an exposed database with account access tokens that could be used to access LogBox user accounts without a password (this database was pulled offline when Techcrunch asked for comment). The incident falls foul of South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (Popia) of which certain sections came into effect on July 1.

The solution to exposed data

The danger of your data being exposed cannot be overstated. All it takes is for one of your employees to click on a link that looks innocent but which is, in fact, hostile. This can lead to severe consequences – the most important of which is reputational damage. While educating your workforce about cybercrime is important, it will only take you so far because we’re all prone to making mistakes.

As pointed out in this News24 article, email threats in South Africa increased by 56% between April and May 2020. A senior security researcher at global security firm Kaspersky estimated that the success rate of cyberattacks in this country could have increased by up to 20%. The solution? With our complete suite of edge-to-core products and services, STS has the right solution, skills and experience to address your data security concerns.

Download our guide on edge-to-core services or chat to a consultant to find out more about it. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to ensure that you’re well-informed about news and tips.

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