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Cyber-Threats increase Amidst “Work From Home” Trend Due To Novel Coronavirus

Cyber incident that occurs when an organization is already operating outside of normal conditions has a greater potential to spiral out of control

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Cybercriminals has also started to exploit fears around the COVID-19 outbreak to conduct email scams, phishing and ransomware attacks. Pixabay

With companies across the globe turning to work from home, via the online medium amid the COVID-19 outbreak, threats to cyber security have increased.

Deepak Bhawnani, CEO at Alea Consulting said: “Companies, large and small, will be impacted due to ramifications of work from home, as this will lead to cyber security risk concerns. Proprietary corporate data is being accessed from laptops and home PCs that may not have the same level of firewall and security as in-office setups.

Management and IT managers will subsequently need to reassess the risk to their data, and proactively evaluate their data loss prevention processes, as this can impact their reputation going forward, he added.

Further, cybercriminals has also started to exploit fears around the COVID-19 outbreak to conduct email scams, phishing and ransomware attacks.

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Palo Alto Networks’ Regional Vice President for India & SAARC Anil Bhasin said: “Cyber-criminals have been exploiting fears around the COVID-19 outbreak to conduct email scams, phishing and ransomwareattacks. These emails and messages entice users to open malicious attachments by offering more information related to the COVID-19 situation but contain malicious files masked under the guise of links, pdf, mp4 or docx files.a

With employees taking to work-from-home, cyber security threat multiplies, says Debasish Mukherjee, VP, Regional Sales APAC at SonicWall.

Coronavirus
With companies across the globe turning to work from home, via the online medium amid the COVID-19 outbreak, threats to cyber security have increased. Pixabay

“These are exactly the times when hackers get creative with their malicious intent of hacking into devices and stealing data,” Mukherjee said.

He noted that while caution is being exercised during this epidemic, there is a group of opportunistic cyber-criminals who have been preying on this fear by developing malicious links and apps to hack devices and steal data. From creating malicious links to developing otherwise unsuspecting apps, the hackers of the digital age are getting creative in executing their attacks.

Trishneet Arora, Founder & CEO of TAC Security noted that the low-security standards of home Wi-Fi systems, are a serious threat for the cybersecurity sector at the moment with data of millions of people at stake.

“A few isolated incidents of cyber crimes have already been seen with unsafe links leading to theft of sensitive data. For example, people are offering fake maps that show infected users, this requires the person to download software to generate fake maps, in turn making it a security concern,” Arora said.

He observed that the role of cyber security companies at this moment is more critical than ever. It is essential at this moment to monitor baseline behaviours and any anomalous cyber activity should be looked into in real-time basis.

Bhasin of Palo Alto Networks was of the view that employers need to prepare employees who are unaccustomed to remote working to navigatethe challenges involved.

This can be done through an educational framework to teach staff how to identify and avoid risks, as well as outline the clear procedures to follow in case of a cyber security incident, he added.

Among other precautionary measures, he said that sensitive systems and data should also be restricted where possible, with access reviewed and granted to essential teams only. It should also be ascertained that workdevices encrypt data at rest and are able to protect data on the device if it is lost or stolen.

Michael Sentonas, Global CTO of CrowdStrike said that crisis management and incident response plans need to be executable by aremote workforce.

Cyber security
while caution is being exercised during this epidemic, there is a group of opportunistic cyber-criminals who have been preying on this fear by developing malicious links and apps to hack devices and steal data. Pixabay

“A cyber incident that occurs when an organization is already operating outside of normal conditions has a greater potential to spiral out of control,” he said.

He added that effective remote collaboration tools — including out-of-band conference bridges, messaging platforms and productivity applications — can allow a dispersed team to create a “virtual war room” from which to manage response efforts.

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“At this moment, there is a need for the cyber security industry to be more dynamic and responsive than ever before,” said TAC Security Founder Trishneet Arora. (IANS)

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Internshala Launches ‘May Internship Madness’: Summer Internship Fair Brings Virtual Internships

The internship and training platform, Internshala, has launched the ‘May Internship Madness’ campaign

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Internshala has launched the ‘May Internship Madness’ campaign. Pixabay

13,000+ exciting work-from-home opportunities for students of India with big brands including 9XM, FTV, WWF, IIFL, CRY, and Sportskeeda, and youth icons including Nidhi Mohan Kamal, Shivya Nath, and DJ NYK a part of the internship fair

The internship and training platform, Internshala, has launched the ‘May Internship Madness’ campaign. This initiative is a summer internship fair that features 13,000+ work-from-home summer internships. These internships also include opportunities with big brands such as 9XM, FTV, WWF, IIFL, CRY, and Sportskeeda, along with one-day internships with youth icons including Nidhi Mohan Kamal, a fitness influencer, Shivya Nath, a published author, and DJ NYK. The students can apply for these work-from-home internships by 26th May 2020.

All Indian students are eligible to apply to these interesting opportunities. All the internships in ‘May Internship Madness’ are work-from-home opportunities with an assured stipend as high as INR 1.8 Lac for the whole internship duration. The internship fair also offers internships in offbeat fields including blogging, social media influencing, and music.

Internship
The initiative is a summer internship fair that features 13,000+ work-from-home summer internships. Pixabay

On the launch of the internship fair, the founder and CEO of Internshala, Sarvesh Agrawal said, “Due to the unfortunate COVID-19 outbreak, summer internship season has been affected adversely. Many students across India have lost their summer internships while other students aren’t able to find the much-needed summer internships as hiring and onboarding is paused in most of the companies. In a bid to help these students find the best of work-from-home internship opportunities amid these testing times, we have launched the ‘May Internship Madness’ campaign.”

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“Through this internship fair, we aim to ensure that the students are able to pursue the internships to gain practical exposure and improve their skill-set from the safety of their homes.”

 

 

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Indian Workers Miss Office as Work From Home Becomes the New normal

Lockdown initially thrilled the people to work from home, but now they have started to miss the office environment

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Two months after working from home, Shweta Andrews, a digital editor at a publishing house, says she wants to head back to office because personal interactions with colleagues are important. (Photo Courtesy: Shweta Andrews). VOA

As she settled down to work from home when India announced a lockdown in March due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), Shweta Andrews thought exultantly “this is the way to go.” After all she no longer had to do the grinding commute between office and home in the Indian capital that took up two hours daily.

Two months on, the digital editor of a publishing house is nostalgic about that ride. “I miss my colleagues and believe it or not, I miss travelling in the Metro. I miss the rush. I miss the crowd.”

The unprecedented experiment of work from home that began in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has prompted some Indian companies to explore the possibility of scaling up remote work as they eye long term benefits such as smaller office spaces and lower rentals.

But at a time when a long, stringent lockdown has intensified social isolation, many are finding that an interactive office environment is hard to replace at home.

A New Delhi-based senior professional in a global company, Apoorva Bapna, dismisses the notion that remote work could be the “new normal” and points out that while flexi-hours are welcome, online connections cannot replace the energy generated by professional spaces.

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Apoorva Bapna says office spaces generate energy that cannot completely be replaced by online connections. (Photo Courtesy: Apoorva Bapna). VOA

“There is just that much of bouncing of ideas I can do on a video call or a phone call. Sometimes you just need to sit across the table and have that heated conversation or a debate or just exchange ideas,” says Bapna.

India’s Information Technology sector appears to be blazing the trail for adopting the work-at-home model as the industry gears up to have nearly half the country’s four million I-T workers operate remotely – up from an average of 20 percent before March. The country’s biggest technology company Tata Consultancy Services says that it will have 75 percent of its workforce operating from home by 2025.

Some companies that rely heavily on online work could make the shift much sooner because they found it to be an efficient model in the last two months.

“From a purely productivity standpoint, we have seen a fairly smooth transition in work from home,” says Raghav Gupta, managing director, India and Asia Pacific with Coursera, a U.S. based online learning platform. He gives an example. “If I would go to Bangalore and meet two sets of people in a day, I can do five meetings today by sitting at home.”

As India eases its stringent lockdown and offices begin to reopen with a much leaner staff onsite, the debate has begun heating up.

Some assert that the personal touch provided by an office environment cannot be overlooked, even in the IT sector. “You get ready for the day, it is a mental shift you make,” according to Abhimanyu Mukherji, a service delivery manager in New Delhi with a partner company of software organization, SAP. “Just walking up to someone and talking to my team has a different impact. Now there is a loss of human touch and social interaction which we all are so used to.”

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While it is possible to be productive even doing work from home, Abhimanyu Mukherji says walking up and talking directly to his team has a different impact. (Photo Courtesy: Abhimanyu Mukherji). VOA

While he and his team delivered to their clients’ satisfaction during the lockdown, he points out that working at home from living rooms and dining tables can pose challenges of the kind that some of his team members with young children faced.

“When the kids are at home, they expect a lot of attention from the parents and therefore they are having a lot of difficulty in actually concentrating on the job,” says Mukherji. “The children assume that you must be on leave so you should be giving them all the attention.”

There are also the constraints that living in small apartments or extended families throw up, especially in cities with expensive rentals.  “It is not easy for people who live in Bombay, in smaller homes with six to eight family members crammed up in two bedroom homes,” points out Bapna.

And work from home settings can be even more burdensome for women. “We do everything on the house front and we also manage our office work, which is fairly hectic,” says Bapna who was caught in the lockdown in Jaipur city where she was visiting her parents.

Amid the lockdown there have been no comprehensive surveys to indicate which way Indians would prefer going. But a recent survey by a Bengaluru based research firm, Feedback Insights, found that two-thirds of employees were concerned about personal wellbeing, a lack of connectedness with the team and overall anxiety about the job environment. They also cited frequent distractions at home as a key challenge.

Read More: These Books Can Drive Boredom Away in Lockdown 4.0

However benefits such as savings for companies, less traffic on roads, less pollution and less spending on fuel and daycare will inevitably lead to a greater push for the work-at-home model in the post Covid world.

“By choice and also by planning we will say – you go to office two days a week, you may or may not have a dedicated desk, and the other three or four days you consistently work at home,” says Gupta at Coursera.

But shrinking office spaces, thanks to technology and the new emphasis on social distancing, is something many view with trepidation. Andrews draws an analogy with reading a book on Kindle – it does not replicate the original. “The feeling of holding a book in your hand, that touch, that smell, that personal feeling you get – it’s the same as personal contact in an office,” says Andrews. “So yes technology and computers and zoom and Kindle don’t work as well as interacting with a real human being does.” (VOA)

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This Hacker Group is Selling User Data From 10 Firms For INR 13.6 Lakh Approx

The same hacker group was also behind selling a database of 22 million user records form online learning platform Unacademy on the Dark Web

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The hacker group is known as ShinyHunters, the same group behind breaching private repositories on Microsoft-owned GitHub (the hacker is believed to have acquired around 1,200 private repositories) and Tokopedia. Pixabay

A hacker group is selling data of 10 companies including online dating app Zoosk, US newspaper Star Tribune and food delivery service Chef that contains over 73 million user records over the Dark Web for $18,000 (nearly Rs 13.6 lakh).

Other companies are printing service Chatbooks, South Korean fashion platform SocialShare, online marketplace Minted, online newspaper Chronicle of Higher Education, South Korean furniture magazine GGuMim, health magazine Mindful and Indonesia online store Bhinneka, reports ZDNet. The listed databases have 73.2 million user records, with each database sold separately.

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The hacker group is known as ShinyHunters, the same group behind breaching private repositories on Microsoft-owned GitHub (the hacker is believed to have acquired around 1,200 private repositories) and Tokopedia, Indonesia’s largest online store where a database of over 90 million user records was sold. A Microsoft spokesperson was quoted as saying that the company is investigating the incident.

The same hacker group was also behind selling a database of 22 million user records form online learning platform Unacademy on the Dark Web. Bengaluru-based edtech firm Unacademy said the all the sensitive data of its users was safe and the company was addressing the security issue.

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A hacker group is selling data of 10 companies including online dating app Zoosk, US newspaper Star Tribune and food delivery service Chef that contains over 73 million user records over the Dark Web for $18,000 (nearly Rs 13.6 lakh). Pixabay

“We would like to assure our users that no sensitive information such as financial data or location has been breached,” said Hemesh Singh, Co- Founder and CTO, Unacademy. Encouraged by the profits from the Tokopedia sale, the same group has now listed the databases of 10 more companies.

“Some believe the ShinyHunters group has ties to Gnosticplayers, a hacker group that was active last year that sold more than one billion user credentials on dark web marketplaces, as it operates on a nearly identical pattern,” according to the report.

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BleepingComputer reported that cyber intelligence firm ZeroFox informed them that Shiny Hunters had begun selling databases for the meal kit delivery service HomeChef, photo print service ChatBooks, and Chronicle.com, a news source for higher education. (IANS)