As infection rates of COVID-19 increased over the last few months, so did the number of bad actors trying to come on line with suspicious websites where users could be tricked into providing their credentials or inject their workstation or tablet with malware, NASBA Chief Information Security Officer Roy Hall, Jr., told the Regional Meetings. According to FBI reports, the worldwide spam rates had increased in one month almost 700 percent by the end of March. The bad actors were also tricking individuals into giving them personal information. State and federal organizations were also under attack. NASBA saw a 1207 percent increase in spam delivery to its security systems’ perimeters at the start of the COVID pandemic, but no malware infections were encountered, Mr. Hall stated.

“NASBA users working from home adapted well and we haven’t missed a beat,” CISO Hall reported. NASBA has invested in cloud-based threat, vulnerability, AV and log management systems, so it did not rely on VPN connectivity for security, and this made remote management very efficient, secure and reliable. Staff laptops were already hardened with advanced logging capabilities and there was plenty of VPN capacity. Plus multi-factor log-in verification was in place, requiring a user name, password and a token. In addition, NASBA was already using advanced persistent threat e-mail services that look for suspicious behavior.

Mr. Hall underscored it is best to take a defensive posture, by having employees aware of bad activity that is out there, and aware of what they can do as end users, through established policies and procedures. With so many people working from home, he offered a few safety tips, including, having a router that uses WPA or WPA2 for Wi-Fi encryption, not WEP. Older routers also require manual firmware updates to keep secure, while the newer ones have automatic over-the-air updating. Examples were Eero and Google Nest Wifi. He also cautioned against wireless passwords that are simple to determine, like “apple 1 2 3 since a compromised wireless access router would give any user within the range of the wireless network potential access to all the devices on the home network.” Subscribing to a cloud-based anti-virus system, that updates continually, was also strongly advised for home computers by Mr. Hall. Examples were Sophos Premium, Trend Micro and ESET. For corporate use, he said advanced persistent threat email services “are a necessity these days,” to block threats in the cloud or network edge, before they can get to your private network for business users.

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