It’s a virus attack, literally!
The word ‘Virus’ is used in a specific context in the world of computers, software, and the internet. It is an unwanted set of commands designed to unsettle the operating system of users’ devices. No one knows who makes the viruses and what exactly the makers want in return. But anyone and everyone using electronic devices are under constant threat of a virus attack. Of course, there are several proactive and corrective measures that can be taken to minimize the damage; but none of them can promise a complete protection or complete recovery.
All of this now sounds relatable like never before. Despite centuries of research and advancement in medical science, humankind is still under the threat of some unknown virus attack. The recent outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has challenged our belief that we can predict the future and plan our own lives. This unwanted virus has unsettled the routine operations of every nation across the world. Not a single sector is left unaffected, thanks to this global health crisis. To be specific, all businesses and markets were abruptly shut down after the Government(s) decided to restrict human contact by declaring a nation-wide LockDown!
Schools, colleges, offices, and all other establishments were closed. Travel within and outside the cities, villages, and states was restricted, rather stopped for perhaps the longest duration in history. Public transport facilities such as buses, trains, and air travel were discontinued with immediate effect. Colonies and areas were sealed to contain the spread of Coronavirus. The world, it seems, was not at all prepared for such a virus attack.
The Health Crisis and The Internet
The outbreak of Coronavirus brought with it several surprises. The effects of COVID-19 were as unpredictable as the virus itself. For example, who would have imagined that a virus could change the way we use the internet in our routine life? Until recently, e-mails were considered to be a ‘corporate’ mode of communication; social media was considered to be youth’s domain; and even corporates and young executives were not so comfortable with virtual meetings for official purposes.
The sudden outbreak of Coronavirus and subsequent lockdown situation in a way forced people to rely on the internet like never before. The family members stuck at different locations in the country or world resorted to video calls for staying in touch with each other. The printing and distribution of newspapers came to a halt and people started accessing news portals and social media websites for latest updates and news. Schools and colleges were closed and the teachers had to conduct online sessions for the students who might be attending from locations as good as hundreds of miles away from each other. The local grocery shop started accepting orders on Whatsapp and the restaurants switched from dine-in to home delivery service facilitated by third party online platforms.
Changing Landscape of Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes
In the pre-COVID era, the corporates were too conscious about handling and security of their data. However, the Government-imposed restrictions on physical movement left them with no other option than allowing their employees to work remotely. The concept of ‘Work From Home’ (WFH) has become the order of the day as we sail through these Corona times. The businesses and individuals across the globe have become more dependent on the internet due to this Work From Home style of working.
The pandemic and the lockdown forced more and more people to use the internet for both personal and official purposes. Several people from all age groups and all sections of the society were suddenly exposed to the Cyber World during this period. There was no time or provision or resources available to train them on the goods and the bads of this world. Not surprisingly, these naive users became easy targets for the cyber criminals already laying traps on the web. These cyber criminals found a new way of targeting large organizations through their employees accessing the otherwise secure systems while working from home.
On one hand, the world at large was busy dealing with the unforeseen challenges posed by the pandemic, while on the other hand, the cyber criminals took the opportunity to develop and boost their attacks at an alarming pace. The unstable social and economic situation created fear and uncertainty among people, which were further exploited by the cyber criminals. Along with the working habits of people and businesses, the modus operandi of cyber-crime has also changed during this lockdown period. The increasing dependency of people upon the internet and online transactions is also creating new opportunities for the cyber criminals. With many businesses and individuals not ensuring their cyber defenses, the Work From Home model is now becoming an opportunity for the cyber criminals to exploit people through e-mail scams, hacking passwords, phishing, ransom attacks, online sexual harassment, etc.