By Kathy Gibson – When South Africans took their work home during the Covid-19 lockdowns, cybercriminals took the opportunity to increase their activity – to the extent that malware and breaches shot up to 10-times the normal rate.

Eugene Kaspersky, founder and CEO of the eponymous security company, tells IT-Online that hackers seized the new opportunities presented by remote working and ramped up their attacks around the world.

“The cyber-criminals became even more active in April,” he says. “We saw an increase in attacks of about 20% to 25% globally.

“And, in South Africa, we saw a massive 10-fold increase in web attacks during April.

“We don’t know what happened, or who was under attack, but we do know that cybercriminals increased their attacks by 10-times more than before.”

During May, South Africans had a respite, and the number of attacks dropped to below normal levels, Kaspersky says. Then, in June, July and August, the growth in attacks settled at a rate about 20% to 25% more than previously.

Kaspersky stresses that the move to remote working needs to be done with security firmly in mind. “Many companies didn’t have the resources or the ability to protect their employees at home, so there was an opportunity for hackers to get into the enterprise networks via home computers.”

He urges companies to deploy virtual private networks (VPNs) and two-factor authentication for remote workers. “And let the IT staff manage not just the office equipment, but people’s home computers as well.”