Many companies across North America have assigned their employees to work from home during the pandemic, a strategy that has helped to slow the spread of coronavirus but may have also fanned the flames of computer viruses, leading to a near-doubling in the number of cyberattacks over the past year, a recent report shows.

Companies across North America reported a 93% increase in cyberattacks in the past 12 months, according to a study from Atlas VPN, a New York-based information technology (IT) services firm. 

The firm analyzed data from a survey by Carbon Black, the cyber security division of California-based cloud services provider VMWare. That survey canvassed representatives from 250 North American companies operating across different industries including but not limited to finance, healthcare, and government, spanning the dates of March 2019 to March 2020.

According to the data, as many as 88% of respondents believe that the rise in cyberattacks was a result of employees working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

That could be because employees often apply less stringent cyber-security policies over their personal household computer networks than IT professionals require for corporate networks, creating vulnerabilities such as weak password strength or infrequent software updates. In turn, that leaves the door open to cyberattacks, which Atlas VPN defines as a malicious assault by an individual or organization aimed at gaining unauthorized access to the victim’s device, in order to steal sensitive data, take over computers, or disrupt a company’s internal network infrastructure.

The three most common forms of attack were: custom malware, commodity malware, and supply chain attacks, which exploit cyber-vulnerabilities within the supply chain of a targeted company, the study found.


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