A Sophos global survey shows Covid-19 increased cyberattacks in APAC, but heightened efforts from IT firms are working hard to improve cybersecurity.

UK-headquartered cybersecurity firm Sophos released the results of their global survey for the Asia Pacific region and Japan last Friday, citing increased cyberattacks during the Covid-19 pandemic creating a space for improved cybersecurity strategies from IT teams and firms.

APAC experienced an 85% rise in cyberattacks in 2020, with security workload increasing by 87%. The heavier workload, reportedly, allowed teams to improve their cybersecurity skills and knowledge, 59% of the IT teams surveyed saying team morale was boosted over the course of 2020. However, 65% of the IT teams in APAC reported these cyberattacks were too advanced for them to tackle on their own. These increased attacks occurring during Covid-19 affected multiple industries surveyed, including education (83%), retail (85%) and healthcare (80%) globally.

“IT professionals played a vital role in helping organisations to keep going despite the restrictions and limitations necessitated by Covid-19. Among other things, they enabled education institutions to move learning online, retailers to switch to online transactions, healthcare organisations to deliver digital services and care under incredibly tough circumstances, and ensured public entities could continue to provide essential services,” said Chester Wisniewski, the Principal Research Scientist at Sophos.

As the Covid-19 pandemic induced digitisation for many organisations, as a necessary means to adapt to the shifting digital scape, demands on IT teams increased as technology became the key enabler for many. Workload increased for 62% of the IT teams surveyed, excluding security, where 66% reported increased demand. This however allowed teams to expand their cybersecurity skills, 72% reporting increased abilities, most likely brought on by hands-on experiences as teams were challenged with these increased attacks. The two sectors which experienced the most improvement in cybersecurity skills and knowledge were retail at a 77% improvement, and education by 75%.

“Much of this will have been done at high speed, with limited equipment and resources available and while facing a rising tide of cyberattacks against the network, endpoints and employees. To say things were probably pretty stressful for most IT teams is an understatement. However, the survey shows that in many cases these challenges have created not just more highly skilled, but more motivated IT teams, ready to embrace an ambitious future,” Chester added.

Despite increased daily challenges and demanding workload, the surveyed IT teams still reported boosted morale. This is a positive sign for the importance of teamwork and an engaged workplace. According to the survey, ransomware victims were more likely to experience increased morale versus those that had not been attacked.


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