The world ground to a halt this spring, but that didn't stop the cybercriminals who capitalized on the pandemic. As businesses closed their doors, and more people worked from home, these criminals exploited the coronavirus — and passwords were their biggest target. Now, as the world slowly reopens, the World Economic Forum (WEF) is making the case for identity and access management tools that improve security, increase usability, and lower costs.
The world has changed these last few months, and now businesses have to manage two threats: A new health emergency and an ongoing cybercrime crisis. One in four organizations predicts that more than 80 percent of their workforce will be "digital" post-COVID, so companies need to utilize password authentication technologies to implement successful and seamless work-from-home programs.
Cybercrime During a Pandemic
Cybercrime has always been a significant threat to business owners. Before COVID, experts predicted that cybercrime would cost $6 trillion worldwide every year by 2021, while the average cost of a data breach totaled an estimated $3.92 million. Business leaders believed cybersecurity risks were on the rise, with data theft and cyberattacks among the top 10 biggest risks for CEOs in the short- and long-term, according to the WEF's 2020 Global Risks Report.
Post-COVID, the problem has got worse. It seems nothing stops cybercriminals. Certainly not even a global health crisis.
- In Germany, fraudsters launched a DDoS attack against a German online food delivery app that services 15,000 restaurants. The attack affected thousands of customers who relied on the app after the German government implemented stay-at-home orders.
- In the United States, the amount of cybercrime escalated, with many fraudsters targeting stimulus checks and relief payments.
- Technologies like Zoom, which have increased in popularity over the last few months, could have significant security weaknesses.
- "Cyberthreats are constantly evolving in order to take advantage of online behavior and trends. The COVID-19 outbreak is no exception," says Interpol.
During this crisis, passwords have been extremely vulnerable to cyberattacks. Research shows that criminally-funded attacks on passwords around the world have increased by a massive 667 percent. It's no wonder, then, that the WEF is urging businesses of all sizes to take action now and implement "critical applications that will streamline productivity and collaboration while enhancing security."
Recommended reading: 6 Steps to Using a Team Password Manager for Your Small Business
Why the Problem Will Get Even Worse
With government restrictions still in place and millions of people working from home, cybercriminals will continue to exploit the pandemic. The problem is, many workers at home lack the infrastructure and critical programs that protect data, which creates new opportunities for cybercriminals who want to steal passwords and other sensitive information.
"The increased numbers of employees working remotely presents an opportunity for cybercriminals," says the WEF. "Companies must be vigilant and maintain proper controls on their data and finances. Leaders, IT departments, and staff must work together to prevent vulnerabilities."
The WEF hopes that new password technologies will allow businesses to scale and integrate various business processes as the world recovers from the economic fallout of COVID-19. In particular, the organization recommends password management technologies that support widely-accepted security protocols such as Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML).
Recommended reading: Why All Businesses Should Use A Team Password Manager
The Benefits of Password Management Post-COVID
Unfortunately, cybercriminals show no signs of slowing down. Incorporating password management technologies into your organization might sound like an unnecessary expense, especially during the current economic climate, but doing this could provide you with a significant return on your investment.
Here are some of the benefits of team password management tools:
If you want to successfully implement work-from-home programs, employees need quick access to data and programs. This is where a good team password manager comes in. Employees can use these tools to share logins and passwords safely without compromising personal and sensitive information. This way, you can encourage collaboration and protect data at the same time.
Protect your information
With so many password breaches over the last few months, you need to crank up your security credentials. A secure password manager controls access to your valuable assets, so only the people you trust can view, edit, and share information.
Research shows that 78 percent of people forget their passwords, and this can slow down business operations significantly. A password manager keeps passwords safe so employees can access information when they need it.
Recommended reading: The Risks of Storing Your Passwords in Google Sheets
How are Cybercriminals Stealing Passwords During COVID-19?
Cybercriminals steal passwords in a variety of ways, but the increase of remote work programs during the pandemic has made it easier for them. When employees work from home, passwords are more vulnerable to cybercriminals because of the following reasons:
- Employees might not change their passwords as frequently as they would in the office. Home devices might not utilize password "time out" technologies or other security features.
- Employees might use passwords that aren't strong enough. Passwords might not contain enough characters, upper and lower case letters, numbers, etc.
- Employees might use computer systems or mobile devices with security vulnerabilities or without proper protection.
- Managers aren't around to encourage employees to strengthen password security.
Recommended reading: Are Your Passwords Hacker-Proof? A Checklist to Help You Decide.
Despite a global health and economic crisis, cybercriminals are still causing destruction. Passwords, in particular, are vulnerable to fraudsters, who will go to any length to steal your company's valuable data. As you open up (or adapt) your business in response to the coronavirus pandemic, investing in a team password manager will keep your sensitive information safe.
TeamPassword helps you safeguard access to apps, services, and tools in your organization during the current crisis and beyond. Click here to sign up for a 14-day free trial.