Phishing Attacks in 2021 Trending Due To Pandemic

credit card phishing - piles of credit cards with a fish hook on computer keyboard

Hackers have made some nefarious choices over the past several months, many of which involve using the COVID-19 pandemic to spread their influence and steal data through the use of phishing attacks. Let’s explore how these cybercriminals have leveraged a global disaster to their benefit and some ways that you can keep your business secure.

According to SecureList, spam and phishing trends in Q1 of 2021 were heavily influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, and not in a good way. Here are a few examples of the major threats that surfaced during this time.

Stimulus Payment Scandals

Early 2021 saw many initiatives by government agencies to suppress the financial burden placed on individuals and businesses through the use of economic impact payments and business bailouts. Hackers, of course, wanted to capitalize on this and began using phishing messages to trick people. Targets received messaging that was often specific to their bank and utilized similar branding to official websites. These efforts were all elaborate tricks to convince users to hand over their credentials. Users would unsuspectingly enter their credentials into forms on these fake websites and put their sensitive information at risk.

The Vaccine Race

Back when the COVID-19 vaccine was in short supply or the supply itself was limited to specific groups of people, there was a bit of a race to get to it. This rush created an opportunity for hackers to capitalize on peoples’ desires for security and safety, and they leveraged phishing schemes that used the vaccine to their advantage. They would use language and branding of official health organizations to convince users to click on links in emails, which would then redirect users to fake websites for harvesting credentials or banking information. Even those who got the vaccine received surveys offering free goods in exchange for information.

What You Can Do

It’s no surprise that cybercriminals are using these tricks to subvert security measures. These types of attacks are just more of a string of phishing attacks that must be kept up with in order to maintain network security. Here are a couple of ways that you can make this happen.

  • Utilize Spam Protection: While they aren’t 100 percent effective all the time, spam filters are great for keeping threats out of your inbox. The most advanced phishing attacks could still make their way into your inbox, which is why we recommend taking multiple measures of network security.
  • Train Your Employees: If messages do make it past your spam filter, you will want those who are reading the messages—your employees—to be able to identify the threat and avoid it at all costs. This is where training comes in.
  • Implement Unified Threat Management: Unfortunately, even the best employees will make mistakes, so you will want to have a contingency plan in place for when accidents happen. A UTM gives you just that with a single all-in-one security solution for your network security.

4Corner IT can help your business approach network security in a responsible manner, implementing the best solutions and constantly testing your employees’ awareness of important security practices. To learn more about how we can help you protect your business, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

How Parents’ Views on Remote Work Have Shifted

woman working remotely from home at her desk smiling at her toddler son pointing at the computer screen in front of her.

If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that remote work should not be counted out as a possibility. Employers were forced to make rapid changes to their operations. Still, for some employees—particularly parents—the shift was both disruptive and frustrating, leading some to question whether they should change careers entirely given the impact on their work-life balance.

Your organization must consider how the pandemic has influenced your employees with families. It might be a tough conversation to have, but we are sure that they will appreciate you making this effort moving forward.

How Has COVID Influenced Work-Life Balance?

The COVID-19 pandemic influences the entire family dynamic. While it might originally seem like a great thing to stay home with your family more often, many employees are finding out that it isn’t as simple as that. It takes a lot of effort to keep a family safe, healthy, and educated even under the best circumstances. Even before COVID, many parents opted for childcare services, and when they were not being cared for by others, they were safe and sound at school. However, even the most responsible of parents relied on others to take care of their children. With social distancing guidelines throwing a wrench into these arrangements, parents had to adapt, once again, to the circumstances. It became clear that being a good parent as a working adult would be exponentially harder until the pandemic resolved itself.

This is especially difficult for parents who want to maintain any semblance of professionalism while also maintaining their personal and familial relationships. While some parents are looking forward to returning to the office, others are a bit mixed on the matter, having several concerns related to the following: childcare (49 percent), exposure to COVID (53 percent), decreased work flexibility (48 percent), lowered work-life balance (46 percent), and office politics (31 percent).

Other Concerns for Parents and Remote Workers

Parents might have several other professional concerns about returning to the workplace, and they all might play into a parent’s decision to do so.

  • 60 percent of parents are feeling burnt out, compared to the general population rate of 56 percent.
  • 41 percent of parents say that they are worse off in terms of mental health than before the pandemic, as opposed to the general population’s 38 percent.
  • 19 percent of parents worry about their opportunities for promotion while working remotely, whereas 14 percent of all respondents do.
  • 22 percent of parents claim that their skills have diminished, compared to the general population’s rate of 19 percent.
  • Working parents struggle with setting boundaries, along with a whole other plethora of issues, from working remotely:
    • 40 percent overwork themselves or work longer hours than they should
    • 36 percent deal with distractions unrelated to the workplace
    • 28 percent must deal with unreliable Internet connections
    • 26 percent struggle with technology issues that require troubleshooting
    • 24 percent are sick of video meetings
    • 18 percent have issues maintaining their relationships with coworkers
    • 16 percent have issues maintaining their relationships with their bosses

On a similar note, raising children while working remotely may have a lasting influence on employment as a whole:

  • 43 percent of parents have seen no impacts
  • 21 percent cut back on their working hours
  • 16 percent quit work while planning to rejoin the workforce later
  • 4 percent had a partner reduce their hours
  • 2 percent quit work with no intention of returning
  • 2 percent had a partner quit as a result

Remote Still Works for Employees… Some of Them, Anyway

Despite the countless challenges and obstacles that have cropped up over the past year, employees do value remote work, at least some of the time. Moreover, it is clear that businesses have managed to keep the lights on through this whole situation, so it is reasonable to think that remote operations can continue in at least some capacity moving forward.

Even removing a commute has been a huge boon for some parents, as they can spend more time with family and enjoy more flexibility with scheduling. Some have predicted that remote work can lead to many more benefits, including increased productivity, improved work-life balance, a healthier office environment, and others like gender equality.

Is your business prepared to make the jump back to normal business operations? If so, what does “normal” look like for you? Will you maintain some remote operations moving forward? 4Corner IT can help you prepare no matter your decision. To learn more, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.