English | French Canada
COVID-19: Cyber Risk Implications
Aon Insights

COVID-19: Cyber Risk Implications


The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused significant disruption to business and has triggered the largest “work-from-home” mobilization in history.  Companies across Canada have activated contingency and business continuity plans, with most employees working from home to limit the spread of the virus.

In a new reality where millions of people are working from home remotely, secure networks are now more critical than ever.  We recommend Canadian organizations take the following steps to remain cyber resilient and maintain secure operations amid the crisis:

  1. Defend against Phishing & Social Engineering attacks

    There is an increased threat from malicious actors through targeted malware campaigns, phishing and social engineering attacks. Since the onset of the outbreak, employees expect and are actively looking for communications from their employers. As a result, they may inherently trust communications which look authentic and provide updates on relevant corporate matters including internal policy changes and business continuity plans. Many attackers will take advantage of such communications to try and trick employees into giving their credentials through email (phishing), voice calls (vishing) or SMS (smishing) by convincing the employee that they are providing information genuinely required by their business.

    We have also seen numerous reports of ‘health campaigns’ that have disseminated emails with malicious attachments, purporting to be from official sources with guidance or information on coronavirus. The possibilities are endless, and it’s crucial for organizations to remind employees about the threat of phishing risks including opening attachments and links from untrusted sources and the need for heightened vigilance. Ensure to actively and clearly communicate where they can access trusted internal resources as well as local and national updates.

  2. Test your system’s preparedness

    Organizations will be faced with an unprecedented amount of traffic accessing the network remotely. Increased volume of network traffic risks placing a strain on IT systems and personnel and sensitive data may be accessed via unsecure networks and devices by employees. It also allows for a greater chance of social engineering and impersonation scams. We recommend organizations increase monitoring for attacker activities deriving from work-from-home users as employee’s personal computers are a weak point of access to sensitive corporation information for attackers.

  3. Brace for disruption

    A remote workforce increases the challenges for IT staff to monitor and contain threats to network security. Organizations need to ensure where possible that IT and security colleagues are readily contactable and able to address a compromise at its source. As the risk moves beyond technical, companies should adopt an enterprise risk approach including rehearsing business continuity plans and senior management response through tabletop crisis simulations that focus on cyber scenarios as well as the impact of disruptive events on automation, connectivity and cyber resilience.

    Preparedness is key. At a time of heightened business and technology stress, we recommend businesses review their cyber defenses and keep their staff informed of evolving threats so that they are less likely to become a victim of a cyber-attack.

Read our full Cyber Risk Alert and Recommendations here.

If your business has been compromised by a cyber-attack or needs assistance with building cyber resilience, please contact us and we will help you identify and mitigate the risk to your organization.