The country's former top cyber spy said the pandemic has created conditions that have left companies more vulnerable to cybercrime than they previously were, the Financial Times (FT) reported.
Ex-National Security Agency head Michael Rogers shared the assessment prior to appearing at an event FT is hosting.
Because so many employees are working remotely, Rogers told FT, "the attack surface has just exploded."
“Remote access is being executed on a level that is nowhere near the historic norms of the past, and that’s pretty much across all business sectors,” he said, according to the report, adding that the fact that employees use the same devices for personal and work use exacerbates the problem.
Rogers ran the NSA from 2014 to 2018 and now is a director at a consultancy called CyberCube that works with insurance companies.
FT stated that Rogers also said web searches for COVID-19 information can lead to sites that expose users' data. The hacking technique is called "spear fishing."
“There’s a much greater propensity among user populations now to access links or respond to emails that they believe are making them smarter about COVID,” he said, according to FT.
Rogers also told FT ransomware is proliferating because companies increasingly are willing to give in to the demands of criminals who have taken over corporate computer systems.
“Attackers are finding they have … a higher probability of success," he told FT. "Financial times are so tough that [victims] cannot afford to shut down. The fundamental things that are powering it are unlikely to change. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
While financial services companies have invested considerably in defenses against cybercrime, healthcare organizations remain more vulnerable and also have the kind of personal information criminals want to access, Rogers said, according to FT.