I-TEAM: Cyberattacks getting more destructive with pandemic, Microsoft says

Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 6:06 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Cyberattacks appear to be increasing in the pandemic and cybercriminals are using new tricks against us. Now, security experts are racing to stop the million and billion dollar holdups from spinning out of control.

Turns out the COVID-19 pandemic forced tens of millions of us to work from home and that opened the door even wider for cyber attacks.

We combed through a new digital defense report released Tuesday by Microsoft security experts.

The tech company found attacks are “rapidly increasing.” We’re talking a 35 percent rise in the first half of 2020 compared to the previous six months.

One major reason is that criminal groups have moved their operations to the cloud, targeting businesses that have done the same to reach employees at home.

This year, cybercriminals are also using more phishing attacks -- a whopping 70 percent more.

This is forcing companies to pivot their security measures quickly. And the criminals are smart. They are launching more and more hack attempts over the weekend when top IT people aren’t on the clock -- like what happened at this hospital system on Sunday. Once a cybercriminal has access, they can take over a system in as fast as 45 minutes.

Hospitals, government agencies, and large companies are increasingly high-value targets such as Amazon, UPS, Apple, Zoom, and Microsoft.

Who is behind this? Experts say nations like Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.

To try to put this 2020 increase in perspective for you, another cybersecurity firm named Emsisoft wrote the attacks last year were unrelenting and unprecedented. That’s when almost a thousand government agencies, hospitals, and universities were targeted. Losses totaled $7.5 billion.

We’ve already blown right by that. When you consider experts say the average hack costs $8 million and 300 days to recover -- the total will keep rising.

So what can be done?

On top of investing in technology, experts say companies need to focus on something called multi-factor authentication -- or MFA. What that means is after entering your password, your company would then text, email, or call you for proof it is you -- usually by sending a security code.

Sites like Facebook and Twitter already offer this, so if you at home aren’t using this already -- it’s a good time to start.

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