U.S./International Business News

Hackers find new target as Americans work from home during outbreak

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Experts are warning of a new wave of cyberattacks targeting Americans who are forced to work from home during the coronavirus outbreak.

There is increasing evidence that hackers are using the concerns over the virus to prey on individuals and that working outside secure office environments opens the door to more cyber vulnerabilities.

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“There are nation-states that are actively taking advantage of the situation, particularly our Cold War adversaries, and we need to be keenly aware that they are aware of the lack of security that is presented by everyone telecommuting,” Tom Kellermann, who served on a presidential cybersecurity commission during the Obama administration, told The Hill on Friday.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber agency, underlined Kellermann’s concerns by issuing an alert on Friday pointing to specific cyber vulnerabilities around working from home versus the office.

CISA zeroed in on potential cyberattacks on virtual private networks (VPNs), which enable employees to access an organization’s files remotely.

These networks may make it easier to telecommute, but, according to CISA, they also open up a tempting way for hackers to get in.

“As organizations use VPNs for telework, more vulnerabilities are being found and targeted by malicious cyber actors,” CISA wrote. “Update VPNs, network infrastructure devices, and devices being used to remote into work environments with the latest software patches and security configurations.”

The agency also underlined the importance of flagging suspicious emails, noting that “malicious cyber actors may increase phishing emails targeting teleworkers to steal their usernames and passwords.”

CISA urged that organizations keep their systems updated and patched and be transparent with employees about the dangers of malicious emails, particularly those that use coronavirus fears to tempt individuals to click on them and download computer viruses.

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