80 percent of companies see more cyberattacks during the pandemic


Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis earlier this year 80 percent of companies have seen 'slightly to considerably more' cyberattack attempts, breaking down to 88 percent in the US and 74 percent in the UK.

SIEM specialist Exabeam surveyed more that 1,000 IT security professionals at small- to medium-sized enterprises and finds that a third of respondents experienced a successful cyberattack during COVID-19, leading to network downtime for 40 percent of UK companies and 38 percent of US companies.


There has been an impact on security teams too, a majority report that companies deferred all security hiring during March through June of 2020, with significantly higher deferrals in the US (70 percent) compared to the UK (42 percent). On top of hiring freezes, 75 percent of companies overall experienced security team furloughs, and 68 percent laid off team members. By region, 36 percent of UK and 29 percent of US companies report that two security team members had been furloughed. Nearly 29 percent of US teams lost one to redundancy and 33 percent of UK teams lost two.

But in spite of these team reductions only 22 percent of the total respondents list staff shortages as the biggest challenge in mitigating threats while working remotely. This issue is eclipsed by communication with security teams in the UK (33 percent), and communication with other IT functions in the US (40 percent). Strained interactions between IT and security teams is common but even more difficult to manage remotely. Combined with fewer hands during cyberattack investigation, this can impact overall mitigation efforts when remote. Network security issues were also prominent, with 29 percent of all respondents citing difficulty investigating attacks, and 27 percent naming lack of insight into individual networks as some of their major struggles.

Interestingly though, since the beginning of COVID-19, about a quarter of UK companies and a third of those in the US have chosen to increase automation usage in their security tools due to remote work. Strangely, however, a quarter of UK companies also decreased use of automation during the same time period.

"Companies are grappling with the security fallout from an unexpected shift to remote work, but it’s business as usual for cybercriminals and foreign adversaries with unprecedented opportunity," says Steve Moore, chief security strategist, Exabeam. "The rise in attempted cyberattacks while companies experience staff reductions is a harsh reminder of the security and financial challenges created by the pandemic. Automation of repetitive tasks can allow security teams to improve efficiency and accuracy in the remote environment, especially focusing on the credential, as well as detection and mitigation."

You can read more about the research on the Exabeam blog.

Image Credit: rosedesigns / Shutterstock

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