Things have changed dramatically for much of the world as the coronavirus pandemic has swept the globe, including how advisors are managing their day-to-day work lives serving clients. Comcast, operator of the largest residential internet network in the U.S., measured a 40% increase in virtual private network (VPN) traffic since March 1. A large increase, for sure, but it should be far closer to 100%. Why hasn’t it gotten there? While corporate America has invested and at least partially embraced the need for securely equipping its road warriors and some staff for remote work prior to the crisis, the majority of those working for themselves or for smaller businesses have not seen the need to improve their cybersecurity while at home—or find their security technology too slow, unreliable or cumbersome.
This state of affairs is especially troubling given the explosion in bad actors attempting to take advantage of fear generated by both COVID-19 and the economic havoc it has created. One measure of this increase is the massive number of new coronavirus-related domain names registered since the pandemic began. While many of these are legitimate sites, far too large a number have been identified as launching points for cyber mayhem. Global cybersecurity provider Palo Alto Networks found that among 116,357 new coronavirus-related domains created from January to the end of March, 2,022 have been deemed “clearly malicious,” transmitting malware or other forms of malicious code to site visitors. A staggering additional 40,261 were deemed “high risk,” meaning suspicious activity or associations with malicious domains.
It is not all bad news, however. Hearsay Systems shared data to show how the 150,000 advisors and other intermediaries on its comprehensive compliance and communications monitoring platform have begun to adapt to the situation—increasing the amount of text messages they send and the length of time they spend on the phone with clients.