Before 2020 happened, if you’d told me that Zoom parties would become one of the most exciting events on my social calendar, I’d never have believed it. Yet here we are, with much of the world having been in varying states of social restriction or lockdown for over a year.
Although remote work wasn’t a new phenomenon when the COVID-19 pandemic began, little could have prepared us for the explosion in online activity that followed. It wasn’t just that more people started working from home; suddenly, many of us had to move our entire lives online. And as we shifted practical activities like work and school to online modalities, the internet also became our only way to connect with loved ones, see friends’ faces, share in celebration, and mourn loss. Without a doubt, the notion of “normal” wasn’t just put on hold; it was obliterated.
Whenever there’s a major event or hot topic in the news, you can bet there will be opportunists on standby somewhere, poised to exploit it. The pandemic has been no different, with cybercriminals working overtime to take advantage of individuals and businesses as they transitioned to a mostly online lifestyle. New social engineering tactics, phishing campaigns, record- breaking ransomware payouts, and other developments emerged at astonishing rates.
Between February and March, our data showed a 2000% spike in malicious files with ‘zoom’ in their filenames.
The cybercriminals certainly didn’t sit 2020 out. But neither did we. Cybersecurity analysts and threat researchers the world over have been working tirelessly to discover and neutralize threats as quickly as they appear. Operating systems and web browsers are making effective improvements to their built-in security. Risk awareness training and phishing simulations for employees continue to improve security postures. Nations and companies are working together to break down cybercriminal infrastructure. Like COVID-19 numbers, at least at the time we’re writing this report, many previously virulent online threats are actually trending downward.
The last year certainly tested our fortitude, and its unique circumstances are not yet over. But when challenges come, we adapt. In times that threaten to push us apart, we find new ways to come together. We have proven our resilience and we stand together, ready to face what the future may bring.