hacker virus malware attack during coronavirus pandemic concept

Contributed by AFFLINK

Cyberattacks are increasing and distributors and facility service providers need to be aware of this. A recent Wall Street Journal article reports that the FBI received more than 241,000 complaints about phishing (a type of cyberattack) during 2020.This is a marked increase from the previous year as hackers attempted to exploit the pandemic and widespread remote working.

As to the why, remote working has caused an increase in cyberattacks "because most IT infrastructure is designed to protect networks in the office, not when they access these networks from home,” says Michael Wilson with AFFLINK.

AFFLINK connects manufacturers of facility maintenance, packaging, healthcare, and office supply products with over 350 distributor-members throughout the U.S.

The risks are many, and most distributors and service providers are unaware of just how serious they can be. 

"Hackers can walk away with customer data, purchasing and charging information, intellectual property, and other information most organizations would view as top secret," says Wilson.

As to how to protect yourself, Wilson says these are some of the suggestions AFFLINK is providing its members:

1. Be familiar with phishing 

This is when someone receives an authentic-looking email from a trusted brand. But if clicked, it's a way to break into a computer or corporate IT infrastructure. 

"Double-check who sent the email," says Wilson. "Typically, the email address will provide clues it's from a hacker."

2. Limit access to company data

If someone is no longer with a company, immediately delete their passwords to all IT systems. 

"This has become a major information security threat since the pandemic began."

3. Install new security software

If staffers work from home, new software and firewalls must be installed, not only in the office but on employee computers, smartphones, and networked devices.

4. Train employees

Vigilant employees are the best protection against hackers. 

"[Everyone] must be instructed not to use business computers for personal use, how to detect suspicious emails, and to report potential cybersecurity issues immediately. Right now, we cannot take any chances."