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Web Application Security Testing: More Critical Than Ever


The COVID-19 outbreak sent the world spinning into complete and udder chaos, and cybercriminals have been very quick to seize the opportunity. Ransomware, email scams and phishing attacks related to the coronavirus crisis are all on the rise. With millions of employees shifting to a work-from-home status, the rate at which the world is moving online is increasing a rate never before seen, and as you can expect, so is cybercrime in all of its forms.

Cybercrime on the Rise

As a shark smells blood, cybercriminals have been swift to take advantage of the fear and uncertainty crippling the globe, adapting their usual methods and tactics to exploit users and organizations who find themselves at higher risk than ever. Specifically, phishing emails are being sent to users offering protective equipment, miracle vaccines, and otherwise false information all in a singular effort to obtain login credentials and personal date. In sync, cyberattacks against businesses and organizations are growing not only in frequency, but also severity.

End Users at the Front Lines & Overworked Cybersecurity Staff

As discussed in previous Packetlabs blogs, the global shift to working from home has turned the traditional IT security model on its head. With remote access as the new rule, rather than the exception, a good number of organizations find themselves unprepared. During quarantine, employees obviously still require access to company data and applications, however, this may be at the expense of vital corporate network security measures, putting end-users at the front lines. Further, the effort to support remote workers, now has IT security staff struggling to keep up with their usual job functions, security.

Web Application Security is More Important Than Ever

Unfortunately, business organizations the world over are struggling with not only the operational consequences of the pandemic, but equally important, the financial consequences. Many businesses are losing revenues and have been forced to lay off staff, with information security staff being among the first departments to suffer. This approach is extremely risk-laden as cybersecurity is particularly critical during this time.

For organizations that have had to make the direct switch to a remote workforce, web application security is now more important than ever. Given the current situation, any downtime or data breach can make all the difference in terms of business continuity. Thus, it is more important than ever to identify critical vulnerabilities in your organization’s web applications and remediate them before they are exploited by malicious parties.

Web Application Security in Healthcare

Taking advantage of overworked and understaffed security teams, cybercriminals have intensified their efforts. Healthcare providers have always been a favorite target of malicious parties, however now they find themselves especially vulnerable. Under-slept and overworked staff are more likely to fall for social engineering attacks. As well, with all organization resources strained to their limits, health care organizations are more vulnerable to web application security vulnerabilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic already affects every corner of the globe, and so, research, clinical studies, lab results and even patient data have all become hot commodities for cybercriminals. As a direct result, hospitals, emergency services, research teams, pharmaceutical organizations and the like are all coming under attack. In fact, the World Health Organization has been a primary target for many elite hackers, reporting as much as a two-fold increase in cyberattacks.

Continued and efficient operation of these critical organizations involved in the coronavirus relief efforts is especially important if we, as a global community, are going to get behind the curve, and back to business as usual at any reasonable rate of time.

Maintaining Web Application Security During COVID-19 Crisis

During this time, when cybercrime is increasingly rampant, and cybercriminals are doing their best to exploit any and all web application vulnerabilities they can identify, it’s never been more important to make swift use penetration testing services.

Vulnerabilities found in well-known and trusted websites can be exploited to mount cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks. In a basic example, cybercriminals can use phishing emails or other notifications to link to trusted, but vulnerable, web applications. Once the link is opened, the user will be re-directed to a malicious website with the potential to perform session hijacking or install ransomware.

Fortunately, penetration testing services can identify these vulnerabilities before a malicious party may have the chance.

There is no disputing that malicious hackers are now operating in full tilt, attempting to exploit every weakness they can. During this time, some basic advice that Packetlabs has for any organization concerned about the risk profile of their current web application security:

  1. Assuming your staff are working from home, be sure to harden remote access in any and every way you can. Multi-factor authentication is mandatory.

  2. Educate your users! Whether remote, or on-site, there is nothing more critical than user awareness. As Packeltabs has demonstrated in several of our previous blog posts, the human element is almost always the weakest link.

  3. For ALL business-critical web applications, be sure to take advantage of our use penetration testing services to help identify and eliminate any vulnerabilities residing in your web applications in order to minimize any risk of significant downtime and/or data breaches.

For more information on anything you read here, or general advice surrounding all things web application security, please contact us for more information.