PRINCETON, N.J. (April 14, 2020) – Prepare for massive reports of database breaches and ransomware hacking that will make the recent Zoom-bombing seem like a small chapter in cyber security penetration, a leading author on defending business systems warns.
Like the reporting on the spread of the coronavirus, it may take weeks -- even months -- before we learn the true impact of how millions of remote workers worldwide will have compromised business networks, says Milan Baria, co-author of Amazon best-seller “You Are The #1 Target: Why Your Business Is Likely To Be The Victim of Cybercrime Now More Than Ever Before…And What You Can Do To Stop It.”
“I’m especially concerned for small businesses because they don’t have the staff of IT experts that large corporations can draw on. It only takes one remote worker to click on a phishing email that offers free movies to entertain your children while they are homebound, and the intruders are in your network,” Baria says.
It’s difficult to specify how many people are working remotely under the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions because the numbers haven’t caught up. But Baria and others think it will more than double the Bureau of Labor statistics 2019 report that more than 26 million people worked remotely at least some of the time.
That more than doubles the hackers’ opportunities to penetrate systems, Baria says.
“These hackers send out thousands of emails instantly. If they can get two clicks among remote VPN users, they’re in two companies. They’re after dollars, data and personally identifiable information,” says Baria.
Industry analysts say cyber schemes will cost business about $6 trillion by 2021, with the price of ransomware attacks increasing 74 percent over 2019, to $11.5 billion.
The big hits make news: the takeover of Zoom conferences, a World Health Organization coronavirus testing facility hobbled by a ransomware attack, and the daylong shutdown of the Italian government website for wage supplement registration.
But small business, without an army of IT experts, is more vulnerable.
“I’m certain hackers are penetrating these businesses; we just haven’t heard about it yet,” says Baria, CEO of Blueclone Networks, a managed IT services and cyber security company.
Often, companies don’t know for weeks that their systems have been compromised, and vague federal regulatory reporting requirements for most industries allow others to sidestep any disclosure timetable.
Marriott International didn’t discover a data breach until 2018, four years after attackers gained entry into the Starwood hotel brand, which Marriott acquired in 2016. About 500 million customers were affected.
Baria tells of an accounting firm that got a cryptocurrency ransomware demand and told the hackers it couldn’t afford their terms. The attackers were so deeply inside the company’s network that they sent the CFO a copy of the firm’s financial statement.
“Small business is going to have a difficult enough time resuming operations when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Continuing to update operating systems, software, firmware and hardware and security protocols now will give companies a clean, highly secure position for re-launching operations,” Baria says.
Milan Baria has appeared as a cyber security expert on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, and is co-author of the Amazon best-seller “You Are The #1 Target: Why Your Business Is Likely To Be The Victim of Cybercrime Now More Than Ever Before…And What You Can Do To Stop It.” He is CEO of Blueclone Networks, is certified by Microsoft & CompTIA, and is accredited in specialized areas, including cyber security and compliance.