Meanwhile, cyber defence teams with limited resources are struggling to cope, according to the latest incident-response threat report

In a recent global incident-response threat report, 53% of Incident Response (IR) professionals reported an increase in cyberattacks exploiting COVID-19. It has been found that China-linked entities were behind a majority of the attacks, and the global financial industry has become a key target.

The semi-annual report by VMWare Carbon Black is based on an online survey in April 2020 of forty-nine IR professionals from around the world. Some notable findings include the following:

Bar Graph about Covid19 pandemic
  • Cyberthreats from China are increasing 
    Over half of respondents (51%) saw attacks from China in the 90 days before the survey was held, followed by attacks originating in North America (40%) and Russia (38%).
    Report author Tom Kellermann noted: “The Chinese have exhibited a dramatic evolution in operational security and attack sophistication. It can now be argued that their cyber capabilities rival those of Russia.”
  • The financial sector is under siege. More than half of attacks (51%) in the 90 days prior to the survey were on the financial sector, followed by healthcare (35%), professional services (35%) and retail (31%). This correlates with the finding that 59% of those surveyed said attackers’ end goal was financial gain—by far the leading motivation.
  • With the surge in cyberattacks, security teams are struggling to keep up. Incident Response professionals pointed to remote access inefficiencies (52%), VPN vulnerabilities (45%) and staff shortages (36%) as the most daunting endpoint security challenges in this regard.

The pandemic and its devastating economic impact have amplified cybercrime, yet understaffed cybersecurity teams and IR professionals are struggling everyday to grapple with exacerbated cyberthreats ranging from counter IR to island hopping, lateral movement, destructive attacks and more.

Said Kellermann: “Malicious actors are setting their sights on commandeering an organization’s digital transformation efforts to attack its customers. The heist has become a hostage situation, and destructive attacks have become commonplace.”