The Cyber Security Threat During Lockdown and Back to Normality…

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So, a few weeks back I was lucky enough to return to some normality and attend the Richmond IT Directors and Cyber Security Forum in London. Whilst the train journey into London has never been so quiet for me, it was strangely nice to be making the journey and getting to meet up again with other IT professionals to talk about the last 12 -18 months and what it meant to them.

One of the most interesting talks was with a lady called Rachel Wilson, who is the Head of Cybersecurity for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. Her previous roles had seen her spend 15 years at the NSA where she ran counterterrorism, cyber security including the 2012 summer Olympics in London, and the NSA Cyber Exploitation Operations.

In her speech she talked about how during the Covid period there was a general increase in Cyber related attacks by 40%, and that the area that saw the biggest increase in Cyber attack was the banking sector which saw a rise of 240%. At first many people were surprised at this and how much the banking sector had been affected, but when you really think about it, is it really such a surprise?

If we think about how banks usually operate, just think of Canary Wharf in London, a financial power house for London and usually full of office workers working for some of the biggest banks in the country even the world. And usually they are secure in their office behind various layers of physical and technological security. But over the Covid period all of these people have now been working from home. All these staff working remotely, connecting to apps or VPN or various web secure method to enable them to work like they are in the office at home. The security border for these Banks has now gone form single office blocks to tens of thousands of households.

I talked to another professional who was the Head of Cyber Security Europe for Standard Chartered Bank, they told me that when the pandemic hit Standard Chartered had to convert 80,000 employees worldwide from desk base users to home based users, and I suspect they were not the only company that was put in this position. As I already stated, as soon as these users are outside of their usual safe zone of the office they become more susceptible to Cyber attack both from a technology side and also from a social engineering side.

The biggest threat to any organisation when it comes to Cyber security are its employees, and that’s not me as an IT professional saying IT systems never fail, it’s just the truth. A person is easier to manipulate or trick than an antivirus program or a two-factor authentication setup. People are human, so we have feelings, stresses, pressure, deadlines workloads, teams to manage etc…. all these things can become distractions that cloud or fog our judgement just enough so on that one time when you open that mail, or click that link, or give the so called “engineer” your password, it’s too late.

This month should have been the first month of our Cyber Security Tips but I was so happy to get out into the business world again and attend such an interesting event that I thought it would be good to share this with you. But next month expect some detailed learning around Cyber Security. Our first topic will be around e-mail – the hackers favourite medium to catch potential victims with.

Again, this month I have included some articles I hope you find interesting.

Microsoft to end Windows 10 support in October 2025
This data and password-stealing malware is spreading in an unusual way
Pandemic-Bored Attackers Pummeled Gaming Industry
Cybersecurity in the Healthcare Industry: The Best Defense is Offense

Stay Vigilant and stay safe.

Chris George,

Head of IT, CEME

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