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While Companies implement “Work From Home” For Employees Amidst COVID-19 Fears, Hackers Try To Break Companies’ Networks

The Silicon Valley in India is virtually under a lock-down for some days owing to the new coronavirus pandemic

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Hackers
Threat actors are lurking into this phenomenon as an opportunity. Multiple instances of malicious, automated emails have been reported in several continents, including India, that are getting spooled with 'Coronavirus' as a theme. Pixabay

With several Indian organisations implementing work from home for employees in the wake of growing COVID-19 threat, hackers have turned their eyes on breaking into companies’ networks and systems in absence of robust, multi-layered firewall and security solutions within the boundaries of workers’ homes.

Over 20 lakh employees are likely to work from home — mainly in the Indian IT sector — but how many of them have installed best security practices at home to ensure the security of confidential organisational data is the biggest worry, say leading industry experts.

“Threat actors are lurking into this phenomenon as an opportunity. Multiple instances of malicious, automated emails have been reported in several continents, including India, that are getting spooled with ‘Coronavirus’ as a theme,” Sanjay Katkar, Joint Managing Director and CTO, Quick Heal Technologies, told IANS.

The work-from-home chants could lead to corporate data getting exposed to cybercriminals with many employees using unsecured networks and BYOD (bring your own device) to access enterprise networks. “Businesses who have not prepared for work from home scenario are likely to have employees using their personal devices like smartphones which may not have the same level of security as a corporate-owned device,” Katkar added.

The Silicon Valley in India is virtually under a lock-down for some days owing to the new coronavirus pandemic. Most of the top tech firms, including global tech companies with facilities in India, have asked their staff to work from home.

Coronavirus, Virus, China, Outbreak, Pandemic
With several Indian organisations implementing work from home for employees in the wake of growing COVID-19 threat, hackers have turned their eyes on breaking into companies’ networks and systems in absence of robust, multi-layered firewall and security solutions within the boundaries of workers’ homes. Pixabay

In such a scenario, it is important for businesses and employees to ensure safety and security of their data to avoid any disruptions. According to an Avast survey out on Monday, 39.32 per cent people globally said that they don’t receive the technological support or expertise from their employer, when they are working from home or in a public place, which makes security a concerning issue.

“Nearly 28 per cent of Indians are not aware of their router’s web administrative interface,” said the survey. Jaya Baloo, chief information security officer at Avast, said that companies need to make sure employees use pre-approved laptops and smartphones to access corporate materials, including their emails, tools and documents.

“These devices should have business-grade security solutions installed on them and be controlled by the company IT department, if applicable,” Baloo added. On the other hand, “employees need to secure their home router making it their first line of defense while also looking out for phishing mails and sites and ensure their personal devices are well-protected”, suggested Katkar.

According to Devashish Sharma, CTO, Flock, the workplace collaboration and communication platform, the first and foremost step is to use a secure workplace collaboration platform that enables seamless communication across teams.

“The next step is to build awareness among employees about the risk and repercussions of a security breach, for this the top leadership has to educate themselves first about security practices,” said Sharma. It is often a misconception that large enterprises are more at risk when it comes to data breach.

“Small and medium enterprises too should take steps towards educating every individual in the organisation. Additionally it is extremely vital to empower the IT team to take decisions around security by helping them undertake training and courses that are relevant to their profile,” Sharma told IANS.

Another key standard practice is to ensure there is encryption. When it comes to software, end-to-end encryption and multi-factor authentication are both must-have features. While working from home during the outbreak, employees should also be on the lookout for phishing emails related to the coronavirus including spear phishing emails.

Hackers
The work-from-home chants could lead to corporate data getting exposed to cybercriminals with many employees using unsecured networks and BYOD (bring your own device) to access enterprise networks. Pixabay

Paul Ducklin, Principal Research Scientist at cybersecurity firm Sophos said that “Shadow IT” is where non-IT staff finds its own ways of solving technical problems, for convenience or speed.

ALSO READ: Fighting the Common Enemy: Coronavirus

“We’re living in tricky times, so try not to let matters of public health cause the sort of friction that gets in the way of doing cybersecurity properly,” said Ducklin. (IANS)

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Spread of Fake News on high Rise on Facebook, Twitter Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic

Jumbling of content makes viewers less likely to check sources

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Fake News
The findings of a researcch show the dangers of people getting their news from social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, Pixabay

In novel coronavirus times, there is so much fake news going around and according to new research, there’s a price to pay when you get your news and political information from the same place you find funny memes and cat pictures.

Jumbling of content makes viewers less likely to check sources, said the team from Ohio State University, adding that people viewing a blend of news and entertainment on a social media site tended to pay less attention to the source of content they consumed – meaning they could easily mistake satire or fiction for real news.

“The findings show the dangers of people getting their news from social media sites like Facebook or Twitter,” said study author George Pearson, a senior lecturer and research associate in communication at The Ohio State University.

“We are drawn to these social media sites because they are one-stop shops for media content, updates from friends and family, and memes or cat pictures,” Pearson added. People who viewed content that was clearly separated into categories – such as current affairs and entertainment – didn’t have the same issues evaluating the source and credibility of content they read.

“Jumbling of content makes everything seem the same to us. It makes it harder for us to distinguish what we need to take seriously from that which is only entertainment,” said Pearson in the study appeared in the journal New Media & Society. For the study, Pearson created a fictional social media site called “Link Me.”

The 370 participants saw four webpages with either two or four posts each. Each post consisted of a headline and short paragraph summarizing the story, as well as information on the source of the post. The sources were designed to be either high or low credibility, based on their name and description.

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Fake News, Lie, News, Media, Disinformation, Propaganda
 In novel coronavirus times, there is so much fake news going around and according to new research, there’s a price to pay when you get your news and political information from the same place you find funny memes and cat pictures. Pixabay

All posts were based on real articles or public social media posts taken from Reddit or Tumblr. The results showed that when the content was not grouped by distinct topics – in other words, news posts appeared on the same page with entertainment posts – participants reported paying less attention to the source of the content.

“They were less likely to verify source information to ensure that it was a credible source,” said Pearson. That may be one reason why satirical and other types of fake news get shared by people who evidently think it is real. One solution would be for social media companies to develop tools to distinguish content.

ALSO READ: Rise in Temperature May Double The Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: Study

But until that happens, it is up to users to pay more attention to where their news is coming from – as difficult as that may be. (IANS)