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Increase in home working raises risk of cyber-attacks

24 Mar 2020

The significant increase in home working caused by the coronavirus pandemic has increased the risk of firms being hit by cyber-attacks, according to insurers Beazley.

Ransomware attacks skyrocketed by 131% in 2019, compared to the previous year, according to the Beazley Breach Briefing report, an annual update on cyber trends.

In addition to the growth in frequency, the sums demanded by cyber criminals also increased exponentially, sometimes reaching seven or even eight figures, the report added.

The two most common forms of attack to deploy ransomware are phishing emails and breaching poorly secured Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).

RDP enables employees to access their work computer desktops or a company's primary server from home with the press of a button, but the convenience also comes with added risks.

Commenting on the report, Katherine Keefe, Beazley's Global Head of Beazley Breach Response Services, said: 'With the convenience of enabling employees to work from home, using RDP can make IT systems more susceptible to attack without the right security measures in place.

'The coronavirus has forced many more employees to work from home, and in this pressured environment it is very important that companies take the right steps to reduce the vulnerability of their IT infrastructure.

'Always ensure employees can access their computer using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) with multifactor authentication. It is important to whitelist IP addresses that are allowed to connect via RDP, and make sure that unique credentials for remote access are in place – particularly for third parties.'