2020: The year of the cyber pandemic

The year 2020 has been disruptive for everyone with the global Covid-19 pandemic.  However, there has actually been more going on. 2020 may well be remembered for the many cyber security incidents that have literally transformed the way in which society functions. For instance, a few of the stories that appeared in the news:

“Coronavirus: How the world of work may change forever” BBC

“Interpol reports shows alarming rate of cyberattacks during Covid-19” Interpol.int and

“How is Covid-19 Creating Data Breaches?” Government Technology.

The incredible expansion of online trends during the global pandemic has brought many benefits.  So many people are enjoying the new lifestyle of working from home.

Many argue that one good thing to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic was the growth of technology. A large number of businesses and, of course, personal interactions, established themselves online and so were not badly impacted by the economic slowdown. Everyone is now purchasing their products online, be it grocery shopping to procuring a Jackpot Capital casino download to play fun online games.  However, this does not include all industries, for instance travel, tourism, hospitality and restaurants.

We clearly see how cyberspace has managed itself well during the challenges brought about by the coronavirus.   But it is not all good news.  Many experts are saying that the many negative security cyber incidents that have occurred this past year could well be the beginning of a “cyber pandemic”. So many technological changes that resulted from moving to a digital mode have led to so much criminal activity.  There have also been many headline stories in the media like the following:

“Cyber Pandemic Survival Guide: Three Things for future consideration”. Forbes, and

“Middle East facing ‘cyber pandemic’ as Covid-19 exposes security vulnerabilities, cyber chief says.” CNBC.

From a CNBC article: “The UAE has seen at least 250% increase in cyberattacks this year, Al Kuwaiti said, as the pandemic forced organizations around the world to reconsider how and where they work and hackers and malicious actors took advantage of increased digital adoption. He went on to say “There is a cyber pandemic, not only a biological pandemic.”  And “The United Arab Emirates was the target of huge attacks from activists against the UAE after it established formal ties with Israel in August.”

Where do we see the evidence of this cyber pandemic?

First, and foremost, the evidence of this pandemic is in cyberspace.   It covers everything from data breaches to election security and unemployment fraud. The challenges facing global enterprises have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 Pandemic.   During 2020, the experts struggled to deal with all the technology and security issues that arose from the changing environment.   There were harmful characters looking to take advantage of the changes taking place in technological processes within governments and companies operating worldwide.

For instance, the WHO – World Health Organization – reported that they had experienced a huge rise in cyberattacks back in April 2020.   “This week, some 450 active WHO email addresses and passwords were leaked online along with thousands belonging to others working on the novel coronavirus response. The report went on to say “The leaked credentials did not put WHO systems at risk because the data was not recent. However, the attack did impact an older extranet system, used by current and retired staff as well as partners.”

A piece appearing in Wired magazine entitled “Internet Freedom Has Taken a Hit During the Covid-19 pandemic” suggests that “From surveillance to arrests, governments are using the novel coronavirus as cover for a crackdown on digital liberty.”  It goes on to say that “New research indicates that governments around the world have exploited the pandemic to expand their domestic surveillance capabilities and curtail internet freedom and speech.”

Freedom House, is a digital rights watchdog which keeps track of the different censorship laws and internet shutdowns and more around the globe. In their annual report which covers June 2019 until May 2020 and takes into account the global health pandemic and also the trade clashes between the United States and China they suggest that there has been “a dramatic acceleration of the cyber sovereignty movement. Combined with numerous other geopolitical clashes that have impacted digital rights, global internet freedom has been broadly curtailed in 2020.”

Another expert argues that “We’re sleepwalking into a world where out most sensitive personal and biometric data will soon be at the mercy of private companies, security agencies, and even cybercriminals.”

Can we expect changes in cyber in the future?

We will see cybersecurity technology and service providers making changes in the way that they structure their priorities.  They are likely to be more supportive of current needs. For example.  Encouraging and enabling Business stability, remote work and planning for the life after the pandemic.

We saw “As legions of employees suddenly found themselves in a work from home model, chief information-security officers (CISOs) adjusted, pivoting from working on routine tasks and towards long term goals to establishing secure connections for newly minted remote workforces. CISOs also took steps to prevent new network threats that target remote workers and to bolster business facing operations and e-commerce after a surge in online shopping during pandemic lockdowns.”

According to McKinsey “The challenges that cybersecurity organizations face, have spilled over to technology providers. Those companies have done their own pivots to keep up with customers’ shifting needs and to institute new ways of doing business.  To succeed in the post Covid-19 era, technology providers must rethink their strategies and offerings to accommodate a new security landscape. And they must continue to monitor customers’ needs and adjust sales, service and training accordingly.”

The pattern that we see for the future is the continued coming together of the physical world and the online cyber world.  The example of the US elections in 2016 and again in 2020 and the latest global health pandemic has shown us how world events are impacting our online world.