The Importance of Cyber Security During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Cyber experts have launched measures to protect the UK from online harm as the country continues to rely more on technology while staying at home to protect the NHS and save lives. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a part of GCHQ, has today launched the cross-governmental ‘Cyber Aware’ campaign, which offers actionable advice for people to protect passwords, accounts and devices.

Our ICT category manager Dave Hartis discusses the importance of cyber security during the COVID19 pandemic.

As we rapidly approach another week in uncertain times the current pandemic has significantly changed day to day life for most of the global workforce, impacting how we conduct business and communicate with one another. A range of cyber-related threats has significantly grown alongside this, causing concern for Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) and IT Directors across the world.

With a spike in home working and utilisation of home networking like never before, we continue to leverage technology to unlock a remote approach to working – in some instances on unsecured home or public networks. As our home working experiences have been enriched by technologies such as Blue Jeans, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and Zoom, it is clear that the increase in use is amplifying the global cyber crime threat. None of these enabling applications is really that new and most have been established work tools for some time now; Zoom launched almost seven years ago and Skype for Business is only a short while away from retirement with Microsoft Teams set to take centre stage for intelligent communication and modern collaboration.

It’s only now as we start to unlock and harness the power of these reputable apps through necessity rather than option (aiding to engage with the outside world and maintain a consistent level of business operations) we should be cognisant and aware of the increased threats around us.

A significant spike in COVID-19 related cyber crime across Europe has never been more evident than this week with both HMRC’s COVID-19 job retention scheme and the government of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) in western Germany being targeted by opportunist cyber criminals. Both reporting scam e-mails and website impersonation relating to COVID-19 relief, which has resulted in the disclosure of business bank details in the UK as well as the potential loss of tens of millions of euros in Germany; all of which were set to provide vital emergency coronavirus funding.

In the current climate, adaptable cyber fraudsters are seeking to utilise the pandemic for commercial gain, exploiting new home working solutions through the variety of publicly known vulnerabilities in VPNs and other remote working tools and software. They are adapting and modifying their behaviour under lockdown with emails spoofing organisations such as the World Health Organisation or utilisation of email aliases with precursors such as Dr. or Prof. preying on the general public concerns around coronavirus. One recent Android scam requesting users to download a ‘coronavirus tracker app’ has been identified as deploying ransomware aimed at stealing information from the user’s device.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has launched a cross-governmental security awareness campaign alongside a scam reporting service, to help protect you from cyber criminals with the key advice being to remain vigilant whilst utilising remote working tools and working from home. The importance of having cyber security systems in place to identify and quarantine whilst ensuring that all employees are provided suitable training to spot suspicious communication has never been more business-critical.

Here at Bloom our well-stocked marketplace and supplier roster are well-positioned to support and navigate you through your cyber security concerns and project requirements. We have an extensive range of partners with key credentials and accreditations (including Cyber Essentials, ISACA certification and NCSC, ISO/IEC 27001 accreditation) who can support you during these times of vulnerability offering certified cyber security consultancy for both risk assessment and risk management as well as penetration testing and accredited cyber security training (which can be delivered virtually) to aid with upskilling your team to combat the increased cyber crime threat.

Example partners such as Atos IT Services UK Ltd who are recognised as a global leader in cybersecurity, BSI Cybersecurity and Information Resilience (UK) Limited who have a mission to enable you to achieve enhanced and sustainable information resilience, safeguarding you physical, digital and intellectual property, Information Risk Management Ltd (IRM) who specialise in information security consultancy having gained 20+ years’ experience in the field and Longwall Security Ltd are long-established specialist cyber security service providers with links into Barracuda, Sophos and Flexera for example.

A recent increase in cyber security training requirements means Excellence IT UK Ltd and MTC Training are both well-positioned to offer a plethora of accredited and non-accredited cyber security training including certified ethical hacker, cyber security essentials and Microsoft 365 mobility and security, for example. These are just a handful of the experts we have on tap at Bloom ready and able to support you.

The impact of COVID-19 will undoubtedly be felt for years to come and although it’s been a difficult time under the current lockdown recommendations, the vital role ICT plays and our reliance on these tools will continue to grow. With new shifts in technology and working practices comes new challenges and new cyber crime-related activity and Bloom are here to help you now and in the future with your cyber security and general ICT requirements.

Contact us at projects@bloom.services to discuss your cyber security needs.